Herb and Vegetable Plants

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs Anise Arugula Italian Basil Thai Basil Borage Salad Burnet Caraway Cayenne Chamomile Cilantro Chives Dill Echinacea Lavender Spearmint Peppermint Marjoram Nasturtium Oregano Parsley Rosemary Skullcap Sorrel Stevia Summer Savory Sage Shiso Spanish Tarragon Thyme Valerian Vegetable Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs

Anise:

Scientific Name: Pimpinella Anisum

Common Name: Anise

Annual

Taste: Smells and tastes like licorice

Culinary Uses: Can be used whole or ground to flavor many foods. It is used in savory and sweet baked items. Anise is also used to flavor teas, cough drops, and liqueurs. Give fish and shellfish a wonderful Mediterranean flavor by adding Anise Seed to seafood stews. Make a quick sauce for grilled fish by combining melted butter, toasted Anise Seed, lemon juice, and minced green onion. To add special flavor and texture to baked goods, brush rolls or sugar cookies with beaten egg white and sprinkle with Anise Seed before baking. Anise Seeds naturally have short, hair-like “webs.” Most of the webs are removed in processing, but since they carry flavor it is not necessary for all webbing to be eliminated.

Medicinal Uses: Used for clearing airways by loosening mucous. Aids in digestion and relief from bloating and indigestion.

Description: Anise is an herbaceous annual plant with feathery leaves and white flowers which bloom in the summer. Flowers are produced in thick umbels. These umbels contain small brown seeds that have a strong licorice flavor. The seed is the part of the plant that is typically used. The leaves are used sometimes in soups and salads.

History: Anise is native to the Middle East and has been used as a medicine and as a flavor for medicine since prehistoric times. Ancient Romans hung Anise plants near their pillows to prevent bad dreams. They also used Anise to aid digestion and ward off epileptic attacks. Colonists in the New World used it as a medicinal crop too.

Growing Anise: Can be planted in deep containers or sown directly into the ground in spring after danger of frost has past. Be gentle with roots when transplanting. Grows between 1-1/2 and 3 feet tall. Anise should be planted 12 inches apart in light well-draining soil in full sun while being protected from wind.

Useful Links:

http://www.spiceadvice.com/encyclopedia/Anise_Seed.html

https://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com

Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs

http://herbgardening.com/growinganise.htm

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/anise/

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Arugula:

Scientific Name: Eruca stativa

Common Names: Arugula, Italian Cress, Salad Rocket

Annual

Taste: Peppery

Culinary Uses: Its strong peppery leaves are used in salads and cooked with other cuisines. In some parts of the world, it is been added to cheese burek. In Italy arugula leaves are used in pizzas. Its other culinary usage comes in salads, meat, vegetables, soups, pizza topping and in pasta.

Medicinal Uses: A study by researchers shows that arugula can be used as an alternative to cure ulcers. Some scientists concluded that this herb possesses anti-ulcer effects as it reduces stomach acid secretion and meditate the activity of hormones.
Arugula’s oil is also for various medicinal purposes.

Description: Precisely speaking arugula is a leafy green herb belonging to the mustard family that looks like a loose lettuce plant having thin, elongated leaves. Its white-purple veined flowers grow atop a stalk. Eruca sativa or arugula grows up to anything between 8 inches and 39 inches. Arugula is a cousin of radish as well as watercress; the leaves having a hot and peppery flavor like watercress and radish.

History: Eruca sativa is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and it has been cultivated in the form of a green leafy vegetable since the time of the Romans.

Growing Arugula: This plant requires well drained fertile soil and sunny season. It performs best in spring to early summer. After the germination plant it under the shade but an airy place. After the seedlings are large enough to be handled just thin them out to 9-12 inches apart. While harvesting you just need to pick the young leaves and the plant will generate the new leaves for months. As the flower buds appear, pinch them out to prolong the growing season.

Useful Links:

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/arugula/

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_arugula.htm

http://www.spicesmedicinalherbs.com/arugula-eruca-sativa.html

http://www.freshherbs.com/tag/arugula/

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Basil, Italian:

Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum

Common Names: Italian Basil, Sweet Basil, Genovese

Annual

Taste: Hints of mint and clove, while being peppery and spicy.

Culinary Uses: In many culinary preparations, the basil is used fresh, in the frozen form, or as the dried basil powder in soups, it is used to flavor all kinds of fish dishes, to flavor omelets, it is used in salads and dressings, it is used as a stuffing, it is used in many kinds of pasta dishes, it is used on pizza, and it is also often mixed with many common vegetables such as the artichoke, it is used a flavoring with broccoli, it is used with carrots and eggplant, it is used along side cabbage, it is also used with squash, and with vegetables such as the zucchini. As an herbal flavoring and seasoning herb, the basil goes best with tomatoes, with which it is often served as accompaniment, the basil is also a tasty and essential flavor in the making of tomato paste and to flavor all types of tomato based sauces. It is also used in the making of pesto, this very delectable Italian sauce has exotic ingredients including the crushed leaves of the basil, accompanied by garlic and olive oil, some Parmesan cheese and pine nuts are also typically added to the mix. The fresh leaves of the basil can be added to salads as an herbal taste enhancer. The smaller leaves of the basil are typically used whole. The best way to preserve to preserve the flavor of large leaves it is better tear them into pieces than to cut them up. For the best aroma and flavor using fresh basil, the leaves are better added towards the end of the recipe’s cooking time. As a flavor, the fresh leaves from the basil can also be added to ordinary vinegar and virgin olive oil; these fluids can then be used to flavor different recipes.

Medicinal Uses: It is rich in anti-oxidants, and some claim it has anti-cancer and anti-viral properties.

Description: Basil are annuals. I am growing the Fusarium-wilt resistant variety Nufar which grows 18 to 24 inches high and 12 to 15 inches wide. The dark green, shiny leaves grow up to 2 inches long on a tall, erect plant that is slow to bolt. You’ll enjoy big harvests from this ultra-healthy, dependable variety. It makes a great choice for new gardeners, as well as those looking to grow without any sprays or artificial additives in the garden.

Growing Arugula: Basil needs light, well draining soil. Does well in pots. In the garden, plant them a foot apart. Basil should be watered frequently so that the soil remains moist. Central tufts of leaves should be plucked in order to encourage new leaf growth.

Useful Links:

http://www.freshherbs.com/tag/basil/

http://parkseed.com/nufar-hybrid-basil-seeds/p/00273-PK-P1/

http://www.spicesmedicinalherbs.com/basil-herb.html

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Basil, Thai:

Scientific Name: Bai horapa

Common Names: Thai Basil, Anise Basil, Licorice Basil

Grown as an annual here

Taste: Basil flavor with hints of anise and licorice.

Culinary Uses: Plentiful in Thailand, bai horapa is eaten almost as a vegetable. It is used in large quantities, in whole leaves and sprigs, in many types of dishes, including curries, stir-fried dishes, salads and soups.

Medicinal Uses: Thai basil may be used as an aromatherapy treatment by bruising the leaves and inhaling their aroma. They can also be bruised and rubbed beneath the eyes and on the forehead for a relaxing reprieve from a long stressful day.

Description: This tropical variety of sweet basil (grown as an annual here) provides the unusual basil flavor present in so many Thai dishes that it has come to be identified as “Thai basil” in America, even though the Vietnamese and Laotians also use lots of it in their cuisines. Its leaves are deep green, smaller and not as round as Western sweet basil. They grow on purplish stems, topped with pretty, reddish purple flower buds. Both leaves and edible flowers are sweetly perfumed with a mix of a distinctly basil scent and that of anise or licorice. Therefore, it is, therefore, sometimes referred to as “anise basil” or “licorice basil.”

Growing: Thai basil is an easy plant to care for. It generally requires little fertilizer unless it grows in sandy, infertile soil. According to Colorado State University, a basil plant only needs about an inch of water per week. For the best flavor, trim stalks before they blossom or prune blossoms before they go to seed. Though Thai basil blossoms are pleasing to the eye, the stalks on which flowers are allowed to seed can take on a bitter flavor.

Useful Links:

http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/basil.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/105703-thai-basil-plant.html

Tips for Growing Thai Basil

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Borage:

Scientific Name: Borago officinalis

Common Name: Borrage, Common Bugloss, Starflower

Hardy Annual

Taste: Cucumber flavor

Culinary Uses: Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks. The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups. Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations. Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking. The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage).

Medicinal Uses: Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle. Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium. A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds. An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers.

Description: The bright blue, star-shaped flowers (which bloom most of the summer) make borage one of the prettiest herb plants, thought the dark green leaves are rather plain. The flavor of the leaves resembles that of cucumber. The plant will grow to a height of about 18 inches, and spread about 12 inches. This hardy annual has a messy, straggling habit. It is a native of northern Europe, and grows well in the temperate regions of North America.

Growing: Borage is not a fussy plant, but the richer the soil, the bushier the plant will be. It prefers full sun, and needs protection from wind as it is easily blown over. Place plants close together so they can support each other. A plant or two in an indoor pot will provide leaves all winter, but it will need lots of sun. Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. The plant actually improves the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

Useful Links:

http://www.gardenguides.com/444-borage-borago-officinalis.html

http://www.herbs-info.com/borage.html

http://www.homesteadandgardens.com/borage-borago-officinalis/

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Burnet, Salad:

Scientific Name: Sanguisorba minor or Pimpinella sanguisorba

Common Name: Lesser Burnet, Burnet Saxifrage

Perennial

Taste: Cucumber flavor

Culinary Uses: Brings a freshness into salads and vegetable dishes. The herb is savory when mixed into an herb butter, mixed into spreading cheese, chopped and sprinkled over vegetables or as part of a potato dish. Flowers can be used as a garnish for fresh drinks or cakes.

Medicinal Uses: The plant has been used to treat wounds and used as a tonic and styptic. Like borage, burnet was best known for its ability to “lighten the heart” and was most often served in wine.

Description: It is a low 6- to 18-inch leafy plant that begins as a rosette. It has pinnate basal leaves with four to 12 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are oval and lightly serrated at the edges. The leaves taste like cucumber and add a fresh taste to salads.  Clumps of the plant get 12 inches across and remain small with consistent harvesting. Flowers appear in spring and are in a rounded cluster of purple to pink tiny blooms made up of male, bisexual and female flowers.  The top flowers are male, middle flowers bisexual and the female flowers grow on the top of the cluster. The flowering stems rise from the basal rosette and can grow to 1 foot in height.

Growing: It is a wonderful container plant, with its leaves draping gracefully from a low, central mound. Whether in the ground or in a container, make sure the plant gets partial to full sun. The soil can be poor, and it even does well in limey soil. It is important that it gets moderate water and good drainage to avoid rotting the roots. Salad Burnet is a hardy plant that self seeds if the flowers are not cut back, growing to a height of up to 20″ and as wide across. Cutting back the blossoms will produce plenty of tender new leaves. Because it grows so easily and is so lacy and attractive, it makes a pleasant edging plant.

Useful Links:

How to Grow Salad Burnet

http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/columns/gilbert/salad_burnet.htm

An Herb That Tastes Like a Cucumber

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Caraway:

Scientific Name: Carum carvi

Common Names: Caraway seed, common caraway, Roman cumin, meridian fennel

Biennual (blossoms second year)

Taste: Aromatic, sweet taste, that fills your mouth with flavor when you bite into it. It is a naturally sweet herb, with a licorice flavor, good for adding to any dish that needs a lift.

Culinary Uses: You may add tender leaves of caraway to stews, soups and salads. You may also cook older caraway leaves like spinach, but be ready for a more potent and spicy flavor, akin to that of the caraway seeds. If you are using caraway seeds in cooking, you should add them during the concluding 15 minutes of cooking to avoid any excessive astringent flavor. You may also cook the roots of caraway herb and serve them like you would do with cooked parsnip and carrots. Caraway seeds, which are actually fruits of the herb, are extensively used to add essence as well as season rye breads, biscuits, cakes – in this care they are excellent substitute for poppy seeds in old reserves like seed cake, cheese, pasta, omelettes, applesauce, salad dressings, rice as well as seafood. Caraway seeds often make vegetable dishes where carrots, beets, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans, onions, cucumber, zucchini and turnips are used more spicy and tasty. In fact, if you are cooking sauerkraut, coleslaw and any cabbage dishes, they would remain incomplete if you do not add caraway seeds to them. In case you detest the smell of cooking cabbage, you may add 5 ml or one teaspoon of caraway seed in a muslin bag and boil the cabbage along with it. The essential oil extracted from caraway seeds is employed commercially to add essence to marinades, pickles, confectionery, preserved meats, condiments, ice cream, candy as well as alcoholic drinks, for instance Kümmel and Aquavit.

Medicinal Uses: The action of caraway is somewhat akin to that of fennel and anise. Since caraway is antispasmodic and possesses carminative (any medication that helps to expel gas from the stomach or bowels) attributes, caraway seeds alleviate the digestive tract. In fact, caraway seeds act expressly on the muscles of the intestines to provide relief from cramps, colic and every kind of flatulence and bloating. In addition, ingestion of caraway seeds helps to improve the breathing, enhance appetite, combat cramps in the heart owing to too much stomach gas and, at the same time, alleviate menstrual cramps. Caraway seeds also possess diuretic, tonic and expectorant properties and are often used as active ingredients in medications for treating bronchitis and cough, particularly those meant for use by children. Additionally, caraway is also reputed for augmenting production of breast milk, while the watered down essential oil extracted from the caraway seeds is effective for treating scabies.

Description: The caraway plant is an herbaceous biennial that will mature to 30 inches tall. The plant is only about 8 inches tall in the first season with carrot-like foliage and a long taproot. By the second year, the plant will triple in size and the foliage becomes more feathery with stout stems. Tiny white flowers appear on the umbrels, which begin in May and last until the end of summer. The spent flowers yield small hard brown seeds– the caraway spice that is an important part of many regional cuisines.

Growing: Plant in full sun, 8 to 12 inches apart, and mulch around plants to keep weeds down and sustain moisture. Very little cultivation is required in caraway growing, but adequate moisture is an important component in the first year. The foliage of caraway plants need to be kept dry during irrigation, so a drip hose is an excellent way to keep the soil moisture level up. Cut the plant back in the fall as it will die back and re-sprout in spring. Caraway has few pests or disease problems. Plant a second crop a year after the first for consistent production.

Useful Links:

Herbal Encyclopedia

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/Caraway-What-Is-Caraway.htm

Caraway Spice In the Garden

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_caraway.htm

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Cayenne:

Scientific Name: Capsicum annuum

Common Name: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, hot pepper

Annual

Taste: Spicy, hot, and peppery with deceptively mild aroma.

Culinary Uses: Cayenne pepper can be used fresh or dried. Fresh green or red cayenne peppers can be used in a fashion similar to fresh Jalapeños: as a garnish or chopped up and added to dips, sauces, soups and main courses. You can lower the spiciness level by removing the seeds. Do this while wearing gloves and avoiding contact with the eyes and face to minimize transferring the painful irritants to sensitive areas. You can also dry fresh, ripe red cayenne peppers. Simply wash and place on a wire rack until dry and brittle, which takes about three weeks. These whole, dried peppers can be stored in a sealed container away from light for up to a year. Dried cayenne pepper is more versatile and works as well as fresh in most dishes. For true cayenne lovers, the challenge is not finding foods that the dried pepper enhances; rather, it’s finding any that it cannot improve. It can be added to cocoa for a bit of spice, and when paired with lemon juice works with virtually all vegetables. Dried cayenne should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar, away from direct sunlight. It will last for up to three years.

Medicinal Uses: Cayenne peppers, also known as Paprika, are often used as a natural fat burner and pain killer with anti-inflammatory properties. Well-known as an immune booster.

Description: HOT but delightfully pungent in flavor! The fruits reach six inches in length by one-half inch in diameter.  The thin, tapering fruits are green fruits and turn a beautiful red when mature. They are named after the South American river in Guyana by the same name. A versatile pepper, they are used for pickling, canning or drying.  A nice, hot variety that reaches 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units.

Growing: Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.

Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. This is especially important for peppers as their roots may be easily damaged when weeding, and this can lead to blossom end rot.

Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2″ of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.

Note that hot peppers tend to be hotter when they have less water and fertilizer. If they receive plenty of water and fertilizer they may be more mild than expected.

Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Try planting pepper plants near tomatoes, parsley, basil, and carrots in your home vegetable garden. Don’t plant them near fennel or kohlrabi. Peppers are very colorful when in full fruit and combine well with green herbs, okra, beans and cucumber fences in the garden bed.

Useful Links:

http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/peppers/pepper-hot-long-red-slim-cayenne-prod000813.html

http://www.vitaminstuff.com/herbs-cayenne.html

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-cayenne.html

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Chamomile:

Scientific Name: Matricaria chamomilla

Common Names: German chamomile, camomile, false chamomile, Hungarian chamomile

Annual

Taste: The German chamomile is a species of chamomile that is very aromatic; it also has a slightly bitter taste which is reminiscent of the taste of apples.

Culinary Uses: A delicious and delectable herbal tea can be prepared from fresh or dried flowers.

Medicinal Uses: Chamomile has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomachs. In the U.S., chamomile is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea.

Description: I am growing Bodegold, which is an improved German Chamomile strain with high essential oil content (.9%), and high levels of the medicinal compounds bisabolol, and chamazulene. Summer blooming annual with white blossoms and  yellow centers. They grow to about 2 feet tall.

Growing: Grows well in poor, clay soil and tolerates hot, dry weather. Thrive in open, sunny locations, but will grow in light shade. Space 4 inches apart. Although an annual, German chamomile self-sows readily, so you’ll likely have a fresh crop the following year. Harvest flowers for drying and for fresh use when they are fully open.

Useful Links:

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_chamomile_ger.htm

http://www.gardenguides.com/526-chamomile-culinary-herbs-short-season-gardeners.html

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Cilantro:

Scientific Name: Coriandrum sativum

Common Names: Cilantro (when referring to its leaves), Coriander (when referring to its seeds), Chinese parsley

Grown as an annual here

Taste: Leaves are pungent with citrus undertones. Coriander seeds feature tiny, yellowish brown, round to oval with vertical ridges and have a flavor that is aromatic, sweet and citrus, but also slightly peppery.

Culinary Uses: Cilantro leaves has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Asian and east European cuisine since ancient times. When added in combination with other household herbs and spices, it enhances flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes. The herb has also been used in the preparation of soups, and sauces. Popular Mediterranean cilantro pesto uses fresh cilantro, red pepper, garlic cloves, olive oil, pumpkin seeds with few drops of lemon juice, is a great addition on pasta, in sandwiches or as a marinade to fish, poultry…etc dishes. Freshly chopped and sautéed cilantro leaves are a great addition in green salad. The ripe seeds are an important ingredient in curry. They are also used as a pickling spice or sugar-coated and eaten as candy. To release more of the flavor from the coriander, roast the seeds in a dry, hot pan for a few minutes until you can smell the scent strongly.  These seeds are ground in a mortar and pestle or herb grinder before use. Coriander seed powder is one of the main ingredients used in the preparation of garam masala powder.

Medicinal Uses: It aids in better digestion, as well as an improved absorption of nutrients derived from the food. A strong decoction of cilantro seeds mixed with cumin seeds and ginger root acts as a very potent diuretic employed for detoxifying purposes, while a light tea of cilantro seeds and leaves may be drunk in controlled measures daily to help treat diabetes and promote calmness. – See more at: http://www.herbs-info.com/cilantro.html#sthash.4epkqtKu.dpuf

Description: Calypso is destined to become the new workhorse of your herb garden. Stocky, very well-branched plants deliver almost unbelievable yields of fragrant, delectable leaves, simply packed with authentic Cilantro flavor. Let them set seed and you have Coriander too! Just 12 to 18 inches high and wide, this powerhouse concentrates all its energy on producing masses of flavorful leaves. The more you cut, the quicker new ones arise, for a longer-than-ever season of delicious eating!

The juvenile, broad, toothed, soft green, aromatic leaves can be harvested at any time for fresh use in salsa, salads, soups, and as a seasoning in many ethnic dishes. Avoid using the adult, thinly divided, lacy leaves. Umbels of tiny, white or pale pink flowers appear in the summer. They are followed in late summer by the sweetly aromatic seeds.

Growing: It is is easy to grow indoors and out! Plant 8-10 inches apart in full sunshine and any moist, well-drained garden soil. Hold off on fertilizers that contain nitrogen, which could reduce the flavor of the leaves and seeds. It is a good idea to have two separate plantings so you can harvest the tender leaves and stems for cilantro and let one patch go to seed for coriander. Coriander likes well drained, rich soil and will bolt and turn bitter if grown at temperatures over 75 degrees, so plant it after frost has passed but enjoy it until the full heat of summer hits.

Useful Links:

http://parkseed.com/calypso-cilantro-seeds/p/00596-PK-P1/

Better Homes and Gardens: Cilantro

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cilantro.html

Health Benefits of Cilantro

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/Cilantro.htm

Tips on Growing Cilantro

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Chives:

Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum

Common Names: Onion chives

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Mild onion flavor

Culinary Uses: Chives can easily be substituted for onion in many recipes; however, it is important to understand that the longer they are cooked the less potent their flavor will be. To enjoy the full flavor of chives use them uncooked as a garnish.

Medicinal Uses: Used primarily in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its diuretic properties and its capacity to help improve the overall circulatory capacity of the body is touted as among its most beneficial medicinal properties.

Description: I am growing Staro variety of onion chives. Their thick, deep green leaves is high yielding and easy to harvest. Mild onion flavor is perfect for soups and vegetables. Clover-like purple flowers appear in spring. Edible blooms make a flavorful addition to salads. Plants are equally handsome when grown in containers. Growth is clumping to 2 feet tall.

Growing: Plant in full or part sun, 6-8 inches apart. Best appearance and production with rich soil and regular water. Harvest by cutting leaves back to 2 inches tall. Fresh cut leaves last about 7 days in the refrigerator. In zip-lock bags placed in the freezer, quality is preserved for about 1 year. Flavor of leaves declines when plants bloom, shear leaves back as flower buds develop. Chives flowers are showy and edible, attract bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Plants are deer and rabbit resistant.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/a/Chives.htm

http://www.herbs-info.com/chives.html

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/chives/

About Chives from Herb Info

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Dill:

Scientific Name: Anethum graveolens

Common Names: Fernleaf, dillweed, Anet

Annual

Taste: Pleasant anise-like flavor and aroma

Culinary Uses: In cooking, dill is delicious with fish, especially salmon, lamb, pork, poultry, cheese, cream, eggs, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, parsnips, squash, eggplant, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, avocados, and apples. It is particularly popular in salads, soups, sauces, spreads, and fish recipes of Russia and Scandinavia. When preparing fresh dillweed, snip with scissors rather than ripping it with a knife to avoid losing essential oils.

Harvest by clipping leaves close to the stem in early morning or in the evening as soon as the plant is well-established. Once harvested, it has a rather short life-span. It can be dried but it does lose some of its flavor. Spread it on a non-metallic screen in a warm, dark, dry place with good air circulation. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, dark spot. You can also freeze fresh picked dillweed. Freeze it on the stems, as it is easier to handle. Just snip off what is needed and return the rest to the freezer.

The seed heads are used for pickling purposes.

Medicinal Uses: Leaves and seeds are still used to dispel wind, to stimulate the flow of mother’s milk, and to treat congestion in the breast caused by nursing. It is still used to increase appetite, settle the stomach, and to relieve colic in babies.

Description: Fernleaf or dwarf dill grows to 18″ high. It has dark green leaves. It is slow to bolt and is grown especially for its leaves rather than its seed. It is a unique dwarf that was developed for container culture. If you are growing dill for its seed, choose the variety called Bouquet. (FYI, My family grows Bouquet dill and sells freshly cut stalks during pickle season.) Dill is an annual that looks a lot like fennel, its relative. It has a single, spindly taproot like carrot. One long, hollow stalk comes from the root. Numerous, small, yellow flowers appear on an umbrella-like head. The leaves are like soft needles and are called dillweed.

Growing: Dill likes a well-drained, moderately rich, moist soil with a pH of 6.0 in full sun. Do not crowd plants because crowding and poor, dry soil will cause it to bolt. Do not plant it next to fennel because they will cross-pollinate and their individual flavors will be lost. It is a good idea to stagger your plantings of dill for a continuous supply. In companion planting, dill enhances the growth of cabbage, onions, and lettuce. It has an adverse effect on carrots.

Useful Links:

http://www.superbherbs.net/dwarfdill.htm

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dill-weed.html

http://gardenersnet.com/herbs/dill.htm

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Echinacea:

Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea

Common Names: Purple coneflower, Black Sampson, Niggerhead, Rudbeckia, Sampson Root, Purple Coneflower, Hedgehog, Red Sunflower

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, herbalists consider echinacea a blood purifier and aid to fighting infections.

It has also useful properties as a strong aphrodisiac. As an injection, the extract has been used for hemorrhoids and a tincture of the fresh root has been found beneficial in diphtheria and putrid fevers.

Native Americans of the prairie used echinacea for more medicinal purposes than they did any other plant, for everything from colds to cancer.

Echinacea is a tissue detoxifier that also stimulates digestion and acts to promote perspiration to sweat out toxins. The three echinacea roots, purpurea, pallida, and angustifolia are considered to be clinically identical and interchangeable.

Echinacea entered formal medicine in 1895, becoming the best-selling American medicinal plant prescribed by physicians into the 1920s. Later replaced by antibiotics in the United States, it has enjoyed continuous popularity in Europe. In 1993 German physicians prescribed echinacea more than 2.5 million times.

Echinacea has been used externally as either a wash of the decoction or a diluted tincture for pus formation, sores, infections, infected wounds, gangrene, vaginal discharge (douche), hemorrhoids, impetigo, herpes, acne, psoriasis, pyorrhea (mouth wash), gingivitis (mouth wash), sore throat (as a gargle), and tonisilitis (gargle). The powder has been used as a dust for infected skin conditions such as boils, weeping/infected eczema, and psoriasis.

Today most consumers use echinacea to prevent and treat colds and to help heal infections. Echinacea enhances the particle ingestion capacity of white blood cells and other specialized immune system cells, thus increasing their ability to attack foreign invaders, such as cold or flu viruses. Besides stimulating a healthy immune system to deal more effectively with invading viruses, it helps accelerate healing if infection already exists.

Description: I am growing Prairie Splendor. It is is a compact coneflower that features bright rose-magenta rays surrounding a dark orange center cone. It typically grows in a clump to 24″ tall and as wide. Flowers bloom from late spring (two weeks earlier than most echinaceas) to late summer, sometimes with additional sporadic bloom until frost. Each flower (to 4-5″ diameter) features downward-arching rose-magenta rays. Dark green leaves are lanceolate to narrow-ovate. Good fresh cut or dried flower. The dead flower stems will remain erect well into the winter, and if flower heads are not removed, the blackened cones may be visited by goldfinches or other birds that feed on the seeds. Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos meaning hedgehog in reference to the spiny center cone found on most flowers in the genus. European Fleuroselect 2007 Gold Medal winner.

Growing: Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun and plant at about a foot apart. This is an adaptable plant that is tolerant of drought, heat, humidity and poor soil. Divide clumps when they become overcrowded (about every 4 years). Plants usually rebloom without deadheading, however prompt removal of spent flowers encourages continued bloom and improves general appearance.

Useful Links:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=e418

http://www.bellybytes.com/herbs/echinacea.html#.VtCqwOYhFv4

More Than a Pretty Flower

WebMD

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Lavender:

Scientific Name: Lavendula angustifolia

Common Names: English lavender

Perennial to zone 5

Taste:

Culinary Uses: As a spice, lavender is best known as an important aspect of French cuisine and is an integral ingredient in herbs de Provence seasoning blends. Lavender may be used on its own to give a delightful, floral flavor to desserts, meats, and breads. The flowers can also be layered within sugar to infuse it with its distinctive aroma for use in cookies and candies.

Medicinal Uses: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “It has been thought for centuries to enflame passions as an aphrodisiac, and is still one of the most recognized scents in the world. The German Commission E commended lavender for treating insomnia, nervous stomach, and anxiety. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists it as a treatment for flatulence, colic, and depressive headaches, and many modern herbal practitioners use the herb to treat migraines in menopause. In Spain, it is added to teas to treat diabetes and insulin resistance.” Lavender is known for it’s scent but also for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, expectorant, stress-relieving, antiseptic and analgesic properties. Lavender has a long history of use in natural remedies and as a natural scent and perfume. It’s calming scent makes it soothing to the respiratory system and it is often suggested to be diffused to calm coughs and colds. It’s natural antibacterial properties may also make it useful in protecting against airborne viruses and bacteria when diffused.

Description: Its name is derived from the Latin word Lavo, to wash, a distillation of the flowers being anciently used in perfuming water for washing the body. The plant forms a compact clump 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, has numerous erect stems, bearing small, linear, gray leaves, above which the slender, square, flower stems arise. The small violet-blue flowers are arranged in a short, terminal spike, and are followed by little brown, oblong, shiny seeds, with white dots at the ends, attached to the plant.

Growing: Although lavender can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, this plant thrives best under warm, sunny conditions in well-drained soil. In addition, an alkaline soil rich in organic matter can encourage higher plant oil production, enhancing the fragrance in lavender plants. As lavender is native to arid regions, the plant will not tolerate moist or overly wet conditions; therefore, it’s important to consider location when growing lavender plants. They should be located in areas with adequate drainage and spaced far enough apart to ensure good air circulation. This will help reduce the chance of developing root rot. Once established, lavender plants require little care or maintenance. While they should be watered regularly early on, established plants need little water, as they are extremely drought tolerant. Regular pruning not only keeps lavender plants neat looking in appearance, but also helps to encourage new growth. Low-growing varieties can be cut back to the new growth while larger types can be pruned to about a third of their overall height. Generally, lavender plants take up to a year or more before they are ready for harvesting. However, once they are ready, it’s best to harvest the plants early in the day, picking flower spikes that haven’t fully opened yet. Bundle the plants up and hang upside down in a dry, dark area for about one to two weeks.

Useful Links:

Lavender Herb Profile

http://www.plantguide.org/lavender-herb.html

Lavender in the Garden

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/lavender-flowers/profile

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Mint, Spearmint:

Scientific Name: Mentha spicata

Common Names: Fish Mint, Garden Mint, Menthol, Sage of Bethlehem

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: A more mild minty flavor than peppermint

Culinary Uses: Grown for their leaves which are used to flavor vinegar and jelly (often served with roast lamb and other meats), and to enhance thirst-quenching cooling beverages.

Medicinal Uses: Spearmint is used for digestive disorders including gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, upper gastrointestinal tract spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bile duct and gallbladder swelling (inflammation), and gallstones. It is also used for sore throat, colds, headaches, toothaches, cramps, cancer and inflammation of respiratory tract. Some people use it as a stimulant, germ-killer, local pain-killer, and anti-spasm medication. Spearmint is applied directly to the skin for swelling inside the mouth, arthritis, local muscle and nerve pain, and skin conditions including pruritus and urticaria.

Description: Spearmint resembles peppermint, though spearmint plants have bright green leaves that are pointed, and lavender flower spikes that grow up to 4 inches long. When planted in ideal conditions, spearmint will reach a mature height and width of 12 to 24 inches.

Growing: Learning how to grow spearmint isn’t much different than growing other mint plants. Spearmint is a hardy perennial up to USDA plant hardiness Zone 5 that grows best in partial shade with well-draining, rich, moist soil and a pH of 6.5 to 7. Mint is easiest to grow from plants, but you can sow seed once the ground has warmed in the spring. Keep seeds moist until they germinate and thin plants to 1 foot apart. Spearmint, once planted takes off quickly and can take over quickly as well. Many people question how to plant spearmint due to its invasive nature. Some cautious gardeners grow spearmint in hanging baskets or containers to avoid having to pull out runners constantly. Another way to plant spearmint if you want it in the garden is to plant it in a 5-gallon pot with the bottom cut out. This will help keep the runners of growing spearmint plants from invading other spots of your garden. As with most types of mint, the care of spearmint is easy. Mint in the garden should be mulched annually to keep the roots cool and moist. Potted mint does best when fertilized monthly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Divide plants every two years to keep them healthy. Prune potted plants regularly to keep neat and tidy. If you live in an area with very cold winters, it is best to bring potted spearmint indoors and place in a sunny window.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardening.com/growingmint.htm

Spearment Care

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Mint, Peppermint:

Scientific Name: Mentha piperita

Common Names: Balm mint, Brandy mint, Lamb mint

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Potent minty flavor

Culinary Uses: Peppermint is used commercially to flavor a wide variety of products, from mouthwash to candies, ice creams to jellies. It’s traditionally used to make mint sauce that is served with roast lamb, and is quite good with new peas and potatoes, or as a garnish for fruit salad. By itself or combined with other herbs to make a tea, it can’t be beat, and adding peppermint oil to baths makes for a relaxing menthol soak.

Medicinal Uses: Known to aid digestion, relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cold and flu remedy as well as a skin remedy.

Description: Peppermint is a cross between a watermint and spearmint. It is the most widely used mint, and is pretty easy to identify by its purple leaves. The plant itself can grow from 1-3 feet tall or more, and consists of purplish, square stems and oblong purplish leaves with pointed tips, distinct veins, and toothed edges. It produces small pink, white, or purple flowers at the end of each stem from July to September.

Growing: Peppermint can actually be too easy to grow, and you should take care when introducing it into your garden to keep a fair amount of control over it. Peppermint spreads by sending out runners, and it can quickly take over wherever you place it and begin pushing into neighboring areas. One of the best ways to grow it is to select an isolated spot and just let it go (and go and go). You can also sink a barrel into the ground and plant the peppermint inside it, or set up some other sort of physical barrier to try and contain the roots. You’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about mint in this little booklet. Peppermint thrives best in full or partial sun, in a rich, drained loam that will retain water in summer. Not enough sun and the plant gets leggy. Not enough water or nutrients, and it can become susceptible to rust or mildew. Pests shouldn’t be a problem.

Useful Links:

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-health-benefits-of-the-peppermint-herb.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/481-growing-using-peppermint.html

Peppermint Benefits and Uses

http://herbgardening.com/growingmint.htm

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Marjoram:

Scientific Name: Origanum majorana

Common Names: Sweet marjoram

Grown as an annual here

Taste: A sweeter less potent version of Greek oregano with a hint of balsam

Culinary Uses: Sweet marjoram is mainly a culinary and no cook should be without it. It is often found in bouquet garni, a classic herb combination that includes parsley, thyme, bay, peppercorns, allspice, and tarragon tucked between two stalks of celery tied together, and then tied to the pot handle for easy removal. These are used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. Marjoram has a mild oregano flavor with a hint of balsam. It is wonderfully aromatic. It is good with veal, beef, lamb, roast poultry, fish, pates, green veggies, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, eggs, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. It compliments bay, garlic, onion, thyme, and basil. It can be used as a substitute for oregano in tomato sauces for pizza, lasagna, and eggplant Parmesan. Add it to marinade for artichoke hearts, asparagus, and mushrooms. Use it in herb vinegars, oils, and butters.

Medicinal Uses: As a medicinal tea, sweet marjoram will soothe an upset stomach. It has anti-microbial properties too, and can be used as a skin wash.

Description: The plants grow 1-2 feet tall and have tiny gray-green leaves with a satin texture and bloom clusters that consist of handsome, green petal-like bracts with small white flowers.

Growing: Grow in a sunny and warm spot. Transplant leaving 10 inches between plants. Cut back after flowering to prevent them from getting straggly. Marjoram is particularly good for repelling cabbage moths, and it can be planted between rows of Brassicas for this purpose. Also good around asparagus and basil.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/sweetmarjoram.htm

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sweet-marjoram.html

http://www.superbherbs.net/Sweetmarjoram.htm

http://www.gardenguides.com/432-sweet-marjoram.html

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Nasturtium:

Scientific Name: Tropaeolum majus

Common Names: Nasturtium, Indian Cress

Tender perennial, can be overwintered indoors.

Taste: Light peppery taste

Culinary Uses: Nasturtium leaves can be added to salads and sandwich spreads. Chop some up and add it to egg or potato salad. Flowers and seeds can be added to salads for color and zest.

Medicinal Uses: Nasturtium is mostly taken fresh by adding leaves, flowers and seed pods into salads and other edibles. The plant is antimicrobial, so it is good to eat this herb for infections. It is useful for respiratory infections like bronchitis, flu and colds, and it is also helpful for reproductive infections. It can help clear mucous from the throat and lungs. By taking herbal tincture when you first feel a cold coming on, you can help speed that cold on its way. The seed pods may be antifungal. Tinctures can be made in alcohol or vinegar to preserve the nutrients of the plant for later use. Vinegar can be put on cooked greens for a mustardy touch.

Description: I am growing five different Nasturtiums this year. Alaska Raspberry with brilliant pink-red flowers and variegated foliage. Blooms are held above the leaves for optimal viewing. Plants form compact 12-inch mounds. Canary with canary-yellow blooms speckled red, held above the leaves. Plants form 12 inch mounds. Empress of India with brilliant scarlet flowers and deep blue-green leaves form billowing 2-foot mounds. Moonlight vine that trails to 6 feet and covers itself with beautiful butter-yellow single flowers all season long. Great as a ground cover, trained on a trellis or in hanging baskets. Whirlybird mix with cherry-red, orange, cream, tangerine, and gold blossoms on compact plants.

Growing: Nasturtium prefers a full sun location but will tolerate some light shade however flowering may be reduced.  Average well-drained garden soil produces the best growth. For the tastiest leaves, keep plants well watered as this helps to moderate the spiciness of the leaves and flowers.  Heat stressed plants often produce leaves and flowers that may be more pungent than most people prefer.  If plants show signs of decline or become leggy during the summer, cut them back lightly and they will produce new growth for the remainder of the season.

Useful Links:

http://www.digherbs.com/nasturtium.html

http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/annuals/nasturtium.html#gsc.tab=0

http://extension.illinois.edu/herbs/nasturtium.cfm

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Oregano, Greek:

Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare

Common Names: Oregano

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can be more flavorful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter peppery taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue

Culinary Uses: Its main use today is in cooking. After all, what is a pizza or tomato sauce without the hot, peppery taste of oregano? It enhances cheese and egg dishes such as omelets, frittata, quiches, and flans. It can be added to yeast breads, marinated veggies, roasted peppers, and soups. Chopped and mixed with garlic, salt, and olive oil makes a great marinade for pork, beef, or roasted potatoes. Add a little Rosemary to the oregano marinade and use it on poultry. Greek Oregano is great for tacos, fajitas and salsas too!

Medicinal Uses: Medicinally, oregano tea is still used for indigestion, coughs, and to bring on menstruation. The oil is still used for toothache.

Description: This aromatic, herbaceous perennial is compact and grows to about 20″ tall. Its leaves are hairy, and its flowers small and white.

Growing: Plant a foot apart in full sun or in containers. Good drainage is required for best growth and overwintering. To help insure winter survival a winter mulch of evergreen boughs or straw applied in November or December after the soil has frozen is helpful. This is then removed as growth resumes in the spring. Harvesting can begin just before the plants are ready to flower. Remove the stem tips leaving 4-6 pairs of leaves on the plant in order for it to produce side shoots for additional harvesting. This will also help to make the plant become bushier and more compact. Allowing the plant to flower will reduce or stop growth completely. It also reduces the flavor of the leaves. Hang the cut stems in a cool, dry, dark well-ventilated location. After leaves are dry, they can be removed from the stems and stored in sealed containers.

Useful Links:
http://www.superbherbs.net/Greekoregano.htm

http://extension.illinois.edu/herbs/oregano.cfm

http://www.blogher.com/cooking-fresh-herbs-greek-oregano

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Parsley, Curled:

Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum

Common Names: Curly Parsley, Moss Curled Parsley, Garden Parsley

Biennual (flowers and dies the second year)

Taste: Light, fresh taste and mildly bitter that balances flavors of dishes.

Culinary Uses: This variety is most often used as a garnish but has a much wider culinary use than that! It is used in gazpacho, tossed salads, pasta salads, warm soups, use in combination with other herbs like Basil, Oregano, and Thyme.

Medicinal Uses: Aids in digestion, relief of bloating and gas, helps lower blood pressure, regulates the menstrual cycle, and so on. See more here: http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

Description: I am growing Antaris which has very tightly curled leaves, forming dense clumps with a height of 8-14 inches. Great for borders, interplanting in the garden beds, and indoor or outdoor containers.

Growing: Parsley grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight per day or high output plant growing lights. It also grows well in loamy garden soil rich in nitrogen, and does well in full sun with afternoon shade or in part shade. Parsley can overwinter if lightly mulched during extremely cold weather.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardening.com/growingparsley.htm

http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-flat-leaf-curly-leaf-parsley-175565

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-parsley/

Parsley, Curly or Flat?

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Parsley, Flat Leaf:

Scientific Name: Petroselinum neapolitanum

Common Names: Flat-leafed parsley, Italian parsley

Biennual (flowers and dies the second year)

Taste: Strong, fresh taste and mildly bitter that balances flavors of dishes.

Culinary Uses: This Italian heirloom parsley is very spicy, flavorful; its plain flat leaves are ideal for seasoning. Bushy, thick stalks can also be eaten like celery. Because of its light scent and fresh taste, parsley can be used in anything from soups to sauces to vegetables. In Middle Eastern cuisine, parsley is the one of the main ingredients in dishes such as tabbouleh, a salad using bulgur, mint, parsley and vegetables, and is the main herb used in stuffing for grape leaves. As a garnish, parsley can be chopped and sprinkled in soups, hummus, or mixed with ground meat, such as lamb. More times than not you will find parsley as the most common herb used in Middle Eastern recipes.

Medicinal Uses: Aids in digestion, relief of bloating and gas, helps lower blood pressure, regulates the menstrual cycle, and so on. See more here: http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

Description: I am growing Gigante d’Italia flat-leafed parsley. This plant can grow quite tall (2-3 ft) and is more gangling in habit. The flat serrated leaves often seem to have a much stronger and sweeter flavor than the other varieties, making it more desirable for cooking. Flowers in long-stalk like green umbels June – July (if it flowers the leaves become in-edible and the plant will die so simply remove them to prolong the plants life).

Growing: Parsley grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight per day or high output plant growing lights. It also grows well in loamy garden soil rich in nitrogen, and does well in full sun with afternoon shade or in part shade. Parsley can overwinter if lightly mulched during extremely cold weather.

Useful Links:

http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/a/parsley.htm

Herb Profile: Parsley

http://blog.cookingchanneltv.com/2013/06/12/25-ways-to-use-parsley/

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Rosemary:

Scientific Name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Common Names: Rosemary, Rose of the Sea, Dew of the Sea

Tender perennial and houseplant during the winter

Taste: It is renowned for its fragrant, somewhat earthy scent and flavor

Culinary Uses: The herb is used to flavor in breads, salads, soups, baked vegetables, and meat dishes. Rosemary goes well with tomatoes, aubergine, potato, zucchinis (courgettes). Finely chopped fresh leaves are used in the preparation of delicious sautéed rosemary potatoes. Rosemary tea is a popular flavor drink in Mediterranean region. Tip: In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, the herb is generally added to cooking recipes at the last moments, since prolonged cooking would result in the evaporation of its essential oils.

Medicinal Uses: Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

Description: Rosemary flourishes in well-drained, alkaline soil. It prefers sunny condition but at the same time needs shelter from gusty winds. The plant reaches about 1.5-3 meters in height. Its bushy stems and downy young shoots are covered with about 1 inch long, narrow, needle-like aromatic leaves; dark green above and grayish underneath. The plant bears short racemes of small sea-blue flowers appearing in early summer.

Growing: To grow rosemary year round here they will have to spend the winter indoors. In this case, it’s easier to grow your rosemary in a container all year. Since rosemary likes it on the dry side, terra cotta pots are an especially good choice. Just be sure it doesn’t bake and completely dry out while outdoors during the summer. Bring the potted rosemary inside once the temperature inches into the 30s. It can be a little trickier to keep rosemary happy inside. Your rosemary plant will require 6-8 hours of full sun, so artificial lights may be necessary. Heat is not as crucial as sunlight.

Useful Links:

http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetablepatch/a/Rosemary.htm

Rosemary Herb Profile

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370.php

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rosemary-herb.html

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Skullcap:

Scientific Name: Scutellaria laterifolia

Common Names: Skullcap, Blue Skullcap

Perennial to zone 4

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilisers. The infusion is given for nervous headaches, neuralgia and in headache arising from incessant coughing, pain, and inducing sleep when necessary, without any unpleasant symptoms following. Skullcap is currently being used as an alternative medicine to treat ADD and a number of nerve disorders.

Description: I am growing Baikal Skullcap. It is a perennial mint growing 1-2 ft tall with ridged leaves and tiny purple flowers that blooms from July-September. The two-lobed flowers resemble the military helmets worn by early European settlers, hence the herb’s name.

Growing: Skullcap prefers partial shade to full sun. Water moderately, but make sure soil is well-drained. Prefers fertile soil. Plant a foot apart.

Useful Links:

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/skullcap/profile

https://altnature.com/gallery/skullcap.htm

Benefits of Skullcap

http://www.robsplants.com/plants/scutellaria.php

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Sorrel:

Scientific Name: Rumex acetosa

Common Names: Garden sorrel, Common Sorrel, Spinach dock, narrow-leafed dock

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Sorrel has a remarkably bright and even tart flavor. Many people liken its taste to lemons, which makes sense since there is a real note of sourness in there. It can be tricky to work with, since that lemony flavor is mixed with a deep “greens” and grassy flavor. It is bright and deep, sharp and full of mineral all at once.

Culinary Uses: Once a common ingredient in soups, stews, salads and sauces, sorrel vanished from use for hundreds of years. Now this delightful, leafy green is finding its way back into gardens and kitchens, where its tantalizing flavor and good nutrition can be enjoyed each spring. Use it as a leafy herb – like parsley or basil or mint – chopping it up to use in marinades and dressings or stirring it into soups (like this Sorrel Leek Soup) or casseroles for a bit of fresh flavor. Or, use it as a green, ripping the tender leaves into salads and stir-fries. The tart and bright flavor of sorrel makes it particularly good at adding some life to potatoes, eggs, and whole grains. It is also delicious with smoked or oily fish like salmon or mackerel. Sorrel is classically paired with cream, sour cream, or yogurt – adding a vibrant green color and tartness to these plain items as their fatty creaminess tames the sharp flavor of the sorrel. Sorrel is also a great addition to other cooked greens. Add a handful or two when you cook spinach, chard, or kale for a lovely sour kick. Tip: The herb tastes best in early spring, and becomes increasingly bitter as the season progresses.

Medicinal Uses: Rich in vitamin C, sorrel was valued for centuries for its ability to prevent scurvy, a serious, even life-threatening problem when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. The English physician Culpeper (1826) recommended sorrel “to cool any inflammation and heat of blood,” “to refresh overspent spirits,” “to quench thirst, and to procure an appetite.”

Description: Leaf sorrel is cultivated as a garden herb and grows 2 feet high with upright stems. The leaves are smooth to crinkled and are from 3 to 6 inches long. When sorrel herb bolts, it produces an attractive whorled purple flower.

Growing: Choose a sunny location with good drainage. Plant 6 inches apart. Also does well in containers. Sorrel likes a slightly acidic soil pH; somewhere in the range of 5.5 to 6.8. Since it is grown for its leaves, a soil rich in organic matter will give you lots of green growth. Sorrel is not demanding requiring little extra care. Keep beds weed free.

Useful Links:

http://localfoods.about.com/od/herbs/ss/Sorrel.htm

http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/herb-to-know-sorrel-rumex-scutatus-r-acetosa.aspx

How to Grow Sorrel

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/sorrel/

Harvest to Table: Sorrel

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Stevia:

Scientific Name: Stevia rebaudiana

Common Names: Stevia, candyleaf, Paraguayan sweet herb, sweetleaf, honey leaf plant, sweet chrysanthemum

Tender perennial, usually grown as an annual although can be overwintered indoors.

Taste: Used as a natural sweetner

Culinary Uses: As a tea and in food and beverages as a sweetener.

Medicinal Uses: Internally, The herb is a good sweetener for diabetics as it actually can lower their blood sugar. It delays the absorption of sugar from the intestines, thus regulating the sugar levels that get into the blood stream. It may actually improve insulin sensitivity and encourage insulin production by the body. Studies show that it might also reduce blood pressure and improve the heart’s muscle tone. It helps with weight loss. Externally, Stevia is antibacterial and can be used on the skin. Some studies also show that it may help prevent or delay tooth decay. It may also prevent plaque from adhering to the teeth and reduce the bacteria that create cavities and gum disease. It can be added to mouthwash and toothpaste to control the bacteria in the mouth.

Description: Stevia plant grows 2-4 feet in height with slender, branched stems. Almost all the parts of the plant tastes sweet; however, the sweet glycosides are typically concentrated in its dark-green serrated leaves.

Growing: Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil. Plants grown in warm climates will grow to 24 inches tall and wide. Where summers are cool, expect stevia plants to grow up to 16 inches. Grow three to five plants for a year’s supply of dried stevia leaves.

Choose a well-drained site, and set out the plants 2 feet apart after your last frost. Be sure to choose an accessible spot, because you will need to gather stems often. Where summers are extremely hot, stevia benefits from slight afternoon shade. Elsewhere, grow stevia in full sun.

Useful Links:

http://www.stevia.com/stevia_article.aspx?/title=Growing_Your_Own_Stevia&id=8077

http://www.mountainmausremedies.com/stevia-herb/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/herbs/stevia-plant-zm0z13fmzkin.aspx

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Sage:

Scientific Name: Salvia officinalis

Common Names: Common sage, culinary sage, garden sage

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: Sage is described as having a warm, almost minty taste; that is somewhat bitter.

Culinary Uses: Sage enhances pork, lamb, meats, and sausages. Chopped leaves flavor salads, pickles, and cheese. Crumble leaves for full fragrance. Use ground Sage sparingly as foods absorb its flavor more quickly.Sage is a wonderful flavor enhancement for seafood, vegetables, stuffing, and savory breads. Rub sage, cracked pepper, and garlic into pork tenderloin or chops before cooking.

Medicinal Uses:

Sage

Description: Sage is a shrubby, perennial plant that grows to about 2-3 feet tall.  Foliage is gray-green with a pebbly texture.  As it ages, it has a tendency to sprawl.  Spikes of purple flowers appear in mid-summer.

Growing: For healthy plants, give your sage plants full sun. In hot zones, USDA 8 or higher, they can handle some afternoon shade, but you don’t want the leaves to remain damp for long periods of time. You will probably be snipping and harvesting and plants will sprawl rather than grow tall. Sage plants bloom in mid-summer. They may bloom their first year, depending on size and site, but you are really growing the plants for the leaves. Allow the plants to grow unharvested for the first year, to become established. After that you can harvest leaves at anytime, although they are consider at their best before or just after blooming. Pruning after flowering will keep plants attractive and prevent them from getting too woody and leggy. Sage is very drought tolerant and does not like sitting in wet soil. The leaves will mildew if they are allowed to sit damp, so water infrequently. The essential oils of herbs are strongest when they are grown in a lean soil. Go easy on the fertilizer. It’s better to simply side dress with organic matter, in the spring. Sage is very happy growing in containers. If you want to try growing sage indoors, you will need to provide strong, direct light.

Useful Links:

http://gardening.about.com/od/herbs/p/Sage.htm

http://www.herbs-info.com/sage.html

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-sage.html

http://www.emmitsburg.net/gardens/articles/adams/2001/sage.htm

https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/salofficinalisgarden.htm

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Savory, Summer:

Scientific Name: Satureja hortensis

Common Names: summer savory, savory, bean herb

Annual, but can be brought inside to extend season

Taste: Sweet with a light minty/peppery flavor.

Culinary Uses: Summer savory foliage is fine textured, pairing nicely with the broader leaves of bush beans, beets, basil, or Swiss chard. Dried savory shines when combined with rosemary, thyme, lavender, and bay leaf, the basic foundation for Herbes de Provence, to which other herbs, such as marjoram, basil, and fennel are added. Gather leaves as needed throughout the growing season to sprinkle on salads or garnish dishes. Just before plants bloom, cut entire stems (with flower buds). Air dry stems by spreading on screens or by bundling a few stems and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. When leaves dry completely, strip them from stems and store in airtight containers. Chop dried leaves before using.
Another option to preserve summer savory’s fresh flavor is to stuff the leaves into a jar with vinegar. Use this seasoned vinegar as a marinade base for meats, such as ribs, chicken, and fish. Chopped fresh savory perks up steamed or roasted vegetables, and it also blends nicely with sour cream to create a fresh dip.

Medicinal Uses: It has been praised as a remedy for sore throats, dim vision, sciatica, palsy, intestinal disorders of various kinds, and the stings of wasps and bees.

Description: I am growing Compact Summer Savory. It is a strain of the annual herb with a more compact habit, perfect for container growing. It grows 10-18 inches tall with light needle-shaped leaves to about 1 inch long on four-sided, gray-green stems and tiny summer-blooming lavender flowers.

Growing: Summer savory does best in full sun, about a foot apart in well-draining soil. Once established it is somewhat drought tolerant. Remember, though, it will depart as soon as there is frost in the air. But good news, you can extend the season by bringing indoors. A hanging basket is ideal so it can trail over the side by a sunny kitchen window.

Useful Links:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/summer-savory-zmaz84jazloeck.aspx

How to Grow Savory

http://oldfashionedliving.com/summersavory.html

http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsatoz/ss/How-to-Grow-Summer-Savory.htm

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Shiso:

Scientific Name: Perilla frutescens

Common Names: Green shiso, perilla, beefsteak plant, Chinese basil, purple mint

Tender perennial, grown as an annual here

Taste: Leaves have a distinct cinnamon/clove flavor and aroma, with the spiciness of cumin and even a hint of citrus. The flowers are also edible and have minty, basil-like flavor with hints of clove and cumin.

Culinary Uses: This plant is extremely popular in Japanese and Korean cooking where the leaves are used fresh or pickled to flavor rice, fish, soups and vegetables as garnish and as an onigiri wrap. Chopped they are used in stir fries, tempura, tofu, with cold noodles and salads. It is used by many Japanese when preparing Western dishes as a substitute for sweet basil.
Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavoring in many dishes. The older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura; it also makes a nice pesto. They are one of the ingredients in ‘Shichimi’ or ‘seven spice’ mixture. Essential oils extracted from the plant are also used as a food flavoring in candies and sauces.

Medicinal Uses: It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb. An infusion of the plant is useful in the treatment of asthma, colds, cough and lung afflictions, influenza prevention, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), and to restore health and balance.

Description:

Growing: Shiso grows well in medium to rich, sandy soils. Plant 6 to 12 inches apart in full to partial sun. If the weather is exceedingly warm and humid, the plants’ tops should be pinched back to encourage bushier, less rangy plant growth. Up to a foot long spikes of tiny white flowers bloom from July to October.

Useful Links:

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/43-things-to-do-with-fresh-shiso/

http://www.floralencounters.com/Seeds/seed_detail.jsp?grow=plants&productid=1027

http://justhungry.com/how-grow-shiso-perilla

Growing Perilla Shiso Mint

http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/perilla-frutescens=shiso.php

https://altnature.com/gallery/perilla.htm

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Spanish Tarragon:

Scientific Name: Tagetes lucida

Common Names: Mexican mint marigold, Cloud plant, sweet mace, Mexican or winter tarragon, root beer plant

Tender perennial, grown as an annual here or a houseplant

Taste: Sweet anise flavor, used in place of French Tarragon.

Culinary Uses: Chop the fresh leaves and use them to season chicken and tossed green salads, or brew them into a sweet, anise-flavored tea. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well if kept in a sealed glass container and protected from extreme heat and bright light.

Foil-baked fish is a fragrant treat when cooked with this herb. Place one pound of fresh fillets on a piece of buttered aluminum foil or parchment. Slash the fillets at 2-inch intervals and insert a thin slice of lemon into each cut. Dot the fish with butter, salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with a cup of chopped Spanish tarragon leaves. Double-fold the edges of the foil to seal; fold parchment around the fish, letter style, then turn the ends under. Bake the packet no more than 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F. The fish is done when it flakes easily. Avoid overcooking.

Where French tarragon is difficult to grow, Spanish tarragon is a fine culinary substitute. The flavor is almost indistinguishable from that of tarragon, but because this substitute breaks down more quickly when heated, it’s best if added at the end of cooking. In salads, vinegars, oils, or quick-cooking recipes, substitute it for tarragon in equal proportions.

The colorful yellow flowers are edible, too, ideal for brightening up salads and desserts or make a spicy tea.

Medicinal Uses: It was used for all manner of ailments, including the common cold, colic, malaria and intermittent fevers, and a poultice of the leaves was applied to snake bites. They also used the herb for gout, swellings, digestive problems and so on.

Description: This paragon, native to the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala, is a neat, upright bush some 3 feet tall with narrow, sharply toothed dark green leaves. Its scent recalls that of tarragon more than it does the pungent aroma of its familiar bedding-plant cousins, so-called French and African marigolds. In fall, if the growing season is long enough, the tips of the stems bear clusters of 3/8-inch golden yellow flowers.

Growing: Grow Spanish tarragon along border areas in full sun or part shade and in transition areas between full-sun and part-shade gardens. To get the most out of the fragrant leaves, plant it along walkways and around patios and outdoor living areas. Brush your fingers across the leaves to release the sweet scent. It can also tolerate dry, rocky soil, making it well suited for rock gardens and rockeries. Spanish tarragon is semi-drought tolerant, but you will get better growth and fuller plants by watering regularly. Patios, porches and decks tend to get hot in summer and tender plants suffer, but this herb can take the heat. Plant this flowering herb in patio planters or containers on a deck or porch. In frost-prone areas, you can keep container-grown Spanish tarragon growing all year-round for its ornamental and culinary uses by bringing the plants indoors before the first freeze.

Useful Links:

Mexican Mint Marigold Uses

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/an-herb-to-know-4.aspx?PageId=1

http://www.urbanherbal.com/mexican-marigold-herb/

http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2012/07/mexican-mint-marigold-plant-of-aztecs.html

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Thyme:

Scientific Name: Thymus vulgaris

Common Names: Common thyme, English thyme, garden thyme, German thyme, elfin thyme

Perennial to zone 4

Taste: Pungent minty, light-lemon flavor and aroma

Culinary Uses: Thyme, like parsley, goes with everything: veal, lamb, beef, poultry, fish, stuffing, stews, soups, sauces, stock, herb butters, flavored vinegars, beans, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, onions, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, eggs, and rice.

Medicinal Uses: Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Only recently, however, have researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.

Description: It has small gray-green leaves with white undercolor and white to pale purple/pink flowers that bloom in summer. It is a robust grower with a height of 15 inches and a spread of 12 inches. It makes a great ground-cover in the garden.

Growing: It is shallow-rooted and needs a moist, well-draining soil although when established it is drought tolerant. Plant 18 to 24 inches apart in full to part sun. 

Useful Links:

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/thyme-herb.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=77

http://www.superbherbs.net/englishtyme.htm

http://www.thegardenpages.com/thyme.html

How to Grow Thyme

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Valerian:

Scientific Name: Valeriana officinalis

Common Names: Heliotrope, Heal-all, wild valerian, vandalroot, valium, St. George’s herb

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: The medicinal parts are the carefully dried underground parts and the dried roots. The flowers are fragrant and the rhizome smells strongly when dried. The odor is not present in the fresh plant. Hydrolysis of componants in the root form isovaleric acid which is responsible for the offensive smell.  Valerian is widely used in Europe as a mild nerve sedative and sleep aid for insomnia, excitability, and exhaustion. Experimental studies have shown that it depresses the central nervous system and relieves muscle spasms.

Description: Valerian can grow to be 5 ft (1.5m) tall and almost as wide. It produces heads of sweet-smelling white or pink flowers which grow on tall and hollow, straight stems rising above the foliage. The light green leaves, each with eight to ten pairs of jagged-edged, narrow leaflets, stay close to the ground.

Growing: Valerian favors full sun and a humus rich soil, and lots of water. Plant about a foot apart.

Useful Links:

http://www.bellybytes.com/herbs/valerian.html#.VtOrSeYhFv4

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-valerian.aspx?PageId=1

http://www.growing-herbs.com/herbs/valerian.htm

Vegetable Plants

We grow many kinds of summer-loving vegetable plants. We have chosen varieties to sell that have proven to be winners on our farm.

Yellow Summer Squash: Fortune, straight-neck variety

Zucchini: Paycheck

Cucumbers: Intimidator

Pickles: Vlasstar

Tomatoes: BHN 589 (excellent slicing and canning tomato), Monticello (plum tomato that is great for sauce, salsa, tomato paste, and canning), cherry tomato mixture that includes red, yellow, pink, and striped cherry tomatoes, heirloom mixture that includes Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Lemon Boy and more.

Peppers: Turnpike (a large green sweet bell pepper that turns red when mature), Cayenne (a long red hot pepper that is used fresh, but more frequently used when left to dry on the plant)

Eggplant: Megal, an early maturing purple variety

Winter Squash: Butternut, spaghetti, and Celebration acorn

Pumpkins: Howden (Jack-O-Lantern type) and Giant Pumpkin

Gourds: Birdhouse gourds (also called green or bottle gourds)

Cabbage: Savoy King

Rhubarb: Victoria

Broccoli: Emerald Crown

Lettuce: Iceberg and romaine

Green Beans: A variety that does well in hot weather

Watermelon: Crimson Sweet and Sugar Baby

Beets: Our favorite red beet variety

 

Herb and Vegetable Plants

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs Anise Arugula Italian Basil Thai Basil Borage Salad Burnet Caraway Cayenne Chamomile Cilantro Chives Dill Echinacea Lavender Spearmint Peppermint Marjoram Nasturtium Oregano Parsley Rosemary Skullcap Sorrel Stevia Summer Savory Sage Shiso Spanish Tarragon Thyme Valerian Vegetable Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Culinary and Medicinal Herbs

Anise:

Scientific Name: Pimpinella Anisum

Common Name: Anise

Annual

Taste: Smells and tastes like licorice

Culinary Uses: Can be used whole or ground to flavor many foods. It is used in savory and sweet baked items. Anise is also used to flavor teas, cough drops, and liqueurs. Give fish and shellfish a wonderful Mediterranean flavor by adding Anise Seed to seafood stews. Make a quick sauce for grilled fish by combining melted butter, toasted Anise Seed, lemon juice, and minced green onion. To add special flavor and texture to baked goods, brush rolls or sugar cookies with beaten egg white and sprinkle with Anise Seed before baking. Anise Seeds naturally have short, hair-like “webs.” Most of the webs are removed in processing, but since they carry flavor it is not necessary for all webbing to be eliminated.

Medicinal Uses: Used for clearing airways by loosening mucous. Aids in digestion and relief from bloating and indigestion.

Description: Anise is an herbaceous annual plant with feathery leaves and white flowers which bloom in the summer. Flowers are produced in thick umbels. These umbels contain small brown seeds that have a strong licorice flavor. The seed is the part of the plant that is typically used. The leaves are used sometimes in soups and salads.

History: Anise is native to the Middle East and has been used as a medicine and as a flavor for medicine since prehistoric times. Ancient Romans hung Anise plants near their pillows to prevent bad dreams. They also used Anise to aid digestion and ward off epileptic attacks. Colonists in the New World used it as a medicinal crop too.

Growing Anise: Can be planted in deep containers or sown directly into the ground in spring after danger of frost has past. Be gentle with roots when transplanting. Grows between 1-1/2 and 3 feet tall. Anise should be planted 12 inches apart in light well-draining soil in full sun while being protected from wind.

Useful Links:

http://www.spiceadvice.com/encyclopedia/Anise_Seed.html

https://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com

Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs

http://herbgardening.com/growinganise.htm

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/anise/

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Arugula:

Scientific Name: Eruca stativa

Common Names: Arugula, Italian Cress, Salad Rocket

Annual

Taste: Peppery

Culinary Uses: Its strong peppery leaves are used in salads and cooked with other cuisines. In some parts of the world, it is been added to cheese burek. In Italy arugula leaves are used in pizzas. Its other culinary usage comes in salads, meat, vegetables, soups, pizza topping and in pasta.

Medicinal Uses: A study by researchers shows that arugula can be used as an alternative to cure ulcers. Some scientists concluded that this herb possesses anti-ulcer effects as it reduces stomach acid secretion and meditate the activity of hormones.
Arugula’s oil is also for various medicinal purposes.

Description: Precisely speaking arugula is a leafy green herb belonging to the mustard family that looks like a loose lettuce plant having thin, elongated leaves. Its white-purple veined flowers grow atop a stalk. Eruca sativa or arugula grows up to anything between 8 inches and 39 inches. Arugula is a cousin of radish as well as watercress; the leaves having a hot and peppery flavor like watercress and radish.

History: Eruca sativa is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and it has been cultivated in the form of a green leafy vegetable since the time of the Romans.

Growing Arugula: This plant requires well drained fertile soil and sunny season. It performs best in spring to early summer. After the germination plant it under the shade but an airy place. After the seedlings are large enough to be handled just thin them out to 9-12 inches apart. While harvesting you just need to pick the young leaves and the plant will generate the new leaves for months. As the flower buds appear, pinch them out to prolong the growing season.

Useful Links:

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/arugula/

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_arugula.htm

http://www.spicesmedicinalherbs.com/arugula-eruca-sativa.html

http://www.freshherbs.com/tag/arugula/

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Basil, Italian:

Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum

Common Names: Italian Basil, Sweet Basil, Genovese

Annual

Taste: Hints of mint and clove, while being peppery and spicy.

Culinary Uses: In many culinary preparations, the basil is used fresh, in the frozen form, or as the dried basil powder in soups, it is used to flavor all kinds of fish dishes, to flavor omelets, it is used in salads and dressings, it is used as a stuffing, it is used in many kinds of pasta dishes, it is used on pizza, and it is also often mixed with many common vegetables such as the artichoke, it is used a flavoring with broccoli, it is used with carrots and eggplant, it is used along side cabbage, it is also used with squash, and with vegetables such as the zucchini. As an herbal flavoring and seasoning herb, the basil goes best with tomatoes, with which it is often served as accompaniment, the basil is also a tasty and essential flavor in the making of tomato paste and to flavor all types of tomato based sauces. It is also used in the making of pesto, this very delectable Italian sauce has exotic ingredients including the crushed leaves of the basil, accompanied by garlic and olive oil, some Parmesan cheese and pine nuts are also typically added to the mix. The fresh leaves of the basil can be added to salads as an herbal taste enhancer. The smaller leaves of the basil are typically used whole. The best way to preserve to preserve the flavor of large leaves it is better tear them into pieces than to cut them up. For the best aroma and flavor using fresh basil, the leaves are better added towards the end of the recipe’s cooking time. As a flavor, the fresh leaves from the basil can also be added to ordinary vinegar and virgin olive oil; these fluids can then be used to flavor different recipes.

Medicinal Uses: It is rich in anti-oxidants, and some claim it has anti-cancer and anti-viral properties.

Description: Basil are annuals. I am growing the Fusarium-wilt resistant variety Nufar which grows 18 to 24 inches high and 12 to 15 inches wide. The dark green, shiny leaves grow up to 2 inches long on a tall, erect plant that is slow to bolt. You’ll enjoy big harvests from this ultra-healthy, dependable variety. It makes a great choice for new gardeners, as well as those looking to grow without any sprays or artificial additives in the garden.

Growing Arugula: Basil needs light, well draining soil. Does well in pots. In the garden, plant them a foot apart. Basil should be watered frequently so that the soil remains moist. Central tufts of leaves should be plucked in order to encourage new leaf growth.

Useful Links:

http://www.freshherbs.com/tag/basil/

http://parkseed.com/nufar-hybrid-basil-seeds/p/00273-PK-P1/

http://www.spicesmedicinalherbs.com/basil-herb.html

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Basil, Thai:

Scientific Name: Bai horapa

Common Names: Thai Basil, Anise Basil, Licorice Basil

Grown as an annual here

Taste: Basil flavor with hints of anise and licorice.

Culinary Uses: Plentiful in Thailand, bai horapa is eaten almost as a vegetable. It is used in large quantities, in whole leaves and sprigs, in many types of dishes, including curries, stir-fried dishes, salads and soups.

Medicinal Uses: Thai basil may be used as an aromatherapy treatment by bruising the leaves and inhaling their aroma. They can also be bruised and rubbed beneath the eyes and on the forehead for a relaxing reprieve from a long stressful day.

Description: This tropical variety of sweet basil (grown as an annual here) provides the unusual basil flavor present in so many Thai dishes that it has come to be identified as “Thai basil” in America, even though the Vietnamese and Laotians also use lots of it in their cuisines. Its leaves are deep green, smaller and not as round as Western sweet basil. They grow on purplish stems, topped with pretty, reddish purple flower buds. Both leaves and edible flowers are sweetly perfumed with a mix of a distinctly basil scent and that of anise or licorice. Therefore, it is, therefore, sometimes referred to as “anise basil” or “licorice basil.”

Growing: Thai basil is an easy plant to care for. It generally requires little fertilizer unless it grows in sandy, infertile soil. According to Colorado State University, a basil plant only needs about an inch of water per week. For the best flavor, trim stalks before they blossom or prune blossoms before they go to seed. Though Thai basil blossoms are pleasing to the eye, the stalks on which flowers are allowed to seed can take on a bitter flavor.

Useful Links:

http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/basil.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/105703-thai-basil-plant.html

Tips for Growing Thai Basil

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Borage:

Scientific Name: Borago officinalis

Common Name: Borrage, Common Bugloss, Starflower

Hardy Annual

Taste: Cucumber flavor

Culinary Uses: Borage flowers and leaves are the traditional decoration for gin-based summer cocktails, and may be set in ice cubes to garnish other drinks. The flowers and young leaves may be used to garnish salads. dips, and cucumber soups. Candied borage flowers make attractive cake decorations. Chopped leaves can be added to soups and stews during the last few minutes of cooking. The leaves can be cooked with cabbage leaves (two parts cabbage, one part borage).

Medicinal Uses: Because it is a tonic plant for the adrenal glands, borage provides an invaluable support for a stressful lifestyle. Borage is rich in minerals, especially potassium. A tea made with borage helps to reduce fevers and ease chest colds. An infusion of borage acts as a galactogogue, promoting the production of milk in breastfeeding mothers.

Description: The bright blue, star-shaped flowers (which bloom most of the summer) make borage one of the prettiest herb plants, thought the dark green leaves are rather plain. The flavor of the leaves resembles that of cucumber. The plant will grow to a height of about 18 inches, and spread about 12 inches. This hardy annual has a messy, straggling habit. It is a native of northern Europe, and grows well in the temperate regions of North America.

Growing: Borage is not a fussy plant, but the richer the soil, the bushier the plant will be. It prefers full sun, and needs protection from wind as it is easily blown over. Place plants close together so they can support each other. A plant or two in an indoor pot will provide leaves all winter, but it will need lots of sun. Borage is an excellent companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries. The plant actually improves the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby.

Useful Links:

http://www.gardenguides.com/444-borage-borago-officinalis.html

http://www.herbs-info.com/borage.html

http://www.homesteadandgardens.com/borage-borago-officinalis/

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Burnet, Salad:

Scientific Name: Sanguisorba minor or Pimpinella sanguisorba

Common Name: Lesser Burnet, Burnet Saxifrage

Perennial

Taste: Cucumber flavor

Culinary Uses: Brings a freshness into salads and vegetable dishes. The herb is savory when mixed into an herb butter, mixed into spreading cheese, chopped and sprinkled over vegetables or as part of a potato dish. Flowers can be used as a garnish for fresh drinks or cakes.

Medicinal Uses: The plant has been used to treat wounds and used as a tonic and styptic. Like borage, burnet was best known for its ability to “lighten the heart” and was most often served in wine.

Description: It is a low 6- to 18-inch leafy plant that begins as a rosette. It has pinnate basal leaves with four to 12 pairs of leaflets. The leaflets are oval and lightly serrated at the edges. The leaves taste like cucumber and add a fresh taste to salads.  Clumps of the plant get 12 inches across and remain small with consistent harvesting. Flowers appear in spring and are in a rounded cluster of purple to pink tiny blooms made up of male, bisexual and female flowers.  The top flowers are male, middle flowers bisexual and the female flowers grow on the top of the cluster. The flowering stems rise from the basal rosette and can grow to 1 foot in height.

Growing: It is a wonderful container plant, with its leaves draping gracefully from a low, central mound. Whether in the ground or in a container, make sure the plant gets partial to full sun. The soil can be poor, and it even does well in limey soil. It is important that it gets moderate water and good drainage to avoid rotting the roots. Salad Burnet is a hardy plant that self seeds if the flowers are not cut back, growing to a height of up to 20″ and as wide across. Cutting back the blossoms will produce plenty of tender new leaves. Because it grows so easily and is so lacy and attractive, it makes a pleasant edging plant.

Useful Links:

How to Grow Salad Burnet

http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/columns/gilbert/salad_burnet.htm

An Herb That Tastes Like a Cucumber

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Caraway:

Scientific Name: Carum carvi

Common Names: Caraway seed, common caraway, Roman cumin, meridian fennel

Biennual (blossoms second year)

Taste: Aromatic, sweet taste, that fills your mouth with flavor when you bite into it. It is a naturally sweet herb, with a licorice flavor, good for adding to any dish that needs a lift.

Culinary Uses: You may add tender leaves of caraway to stews, soups and salads. You may also cook older caraway leaves like spinach, but be ready for a more potent and spicy flavor, akin to that of the caraway seeds. If you are using caraway seeds in cooking, you should add them during the concluding 15 minutes of cooking to avoid any excessive astringent flavor. You may also cook the roots of caraway herb and serve them like you would do with cooked parsnip and carrots. Caraway seeds, which are actually fruits of the herb, are extensively used to add essence as well as season rye breads, biscuits, cakes – in this care they are excellent substitute for poppy seeds in old reserves like seed cake, cheese, pasta, omelettes, applesauce, salad dressings, rice as well as seafood. Caraway seeds often make vegetable dishes where carrots, beets, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans, onions, cucumber, zucchini and turnips are used more spicy and tasty. In fact, if you are cooking sauerkraut, coleslaw and any cabbage dishes, they would remain incomplete if you do not add caraway seeds to them. In case you detest the smell of cooking cabbage, you may add 5 ml or one teaspoon of caraway seed in a muslin bag and boil the cabbage along with it. The essential oil extracted from caraway seeds is employed commercially to add essence to marinades, pickles, confectionery, preserved meats, condiments, ice cream, candy as well as alcoholic drinks, for instance Kümmel and Aquavit.

Medicinal Uses: The action of caraway is somewhat akin to that of fennel and anise. Since caraway is antispasmodic and possesses carminative (any medication that helps to expel gas from the stomach or bowels) attributes, caraway seeds alleviate the digestive tract. In fact, caraway seeds act expressly on the muscles of the intestines to provide relief from cramps, colic and every kind of flatulence and bloating. In addition, ingestion of caraway seeds helps to improve the breathing, enhance appetite, combat cramps in the heart owing to too much stomach gas and, at the same time, alleviate menstrual cramps. Caraway seeds also possess diuretic, tonic and expectorant properties and are often used as active ingredients in medications for treating bronchitis and cough, particularly those meant for use by children. Additionally, caraway is also reputed for augmenting production of breast milk, while the watered down essential oil extracted from the caraway seeds is effective for treating scabies.

Description: The caraway plant is an herbaceous biennial that will mature to 30 inches tall. The plant is only about 8 inches tall in the first season with carrot-like foliage and a long taproot. By the second year, the plant will triple in size and the foliage becomes more feathery with stout stems. Tiny white flowers appear on the umbrels, which begin in May and last until the end of summer. The spent flowers yield small hard brown seeds– the caraway spice that is an important part of many regional cuisines.

Growing: Plant in full sun, 8 to 12 inches apart, and mulch around plants to keep weeds down and sustain moisture. Very little cultivation is required in caraway growing, but adequate moisture is an important component in the first year. The foliage of caraway plants need to be kept dry during irrigation, so a drip hose is an excellent way to keep the soil moisture level up. Cut the plant back in the fall as it will die back and re-sprout in spring. Caraway has few pests or disease problems. Plant a second crop a year after the first for consistent production.

Useful Links:

Herbal Encyclopedia

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/Caraway-What-Is-Caraway.htm

Caraway Spice In the Garden

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_caraway.htm

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Cayenne:

Scientific Name: Capsicum annuum

Common Name: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, hot pepper

Annual

Taste: Spicy, hot, and peppery with deceptively mild aroma.

Culinary Uses: Cayenne pepper can be used fresh or dried. Fresh green or red cayenne peppers can be used in a fashion similar to fresh Jalapeños: as a garnish or chopped up and added to dips, sauces, soups and main courses. You can lower the spiciness level by removing the seeds. Do this while wearing gloves and avoiding contact with the eyes and face to minimize transferring the painful irritants to sensitive areas. You can also dry fresh, ripe red cayenne peppers. Simply wash and place on a wire rack until dry and brittle, which takes about three weeks. These whole, dried peppers can be stored in a sealed container away from light for up to a year. Dried cayenne pepper is more versatile and works as well as fresh in most dishes. For true cayenne lovers, the challenge is not finding foods that the dried pepper enhances; rather, it’s finding any that it cannot improve. It can be added to cocoa for a bit of spice, and when paired with lemon juice works with virtually all vegetables. Dried cayenne should be kept in a tightly sealed glass jar, away from direct sunlight. It will last for up to three years.

Medicinal Uses: Cayenne peppers, also known as Paprika, are often used as a natural fat burner and pain killer with anti-inflammatory properties. Well-known as an immune booster.

Description: HOT but delightfully pungent in flavor! The fruits reach six inches in length by one-half inch in diameter.  The thin, tapering fruits are green fruits and turn a beautiful red when mature. They are named after the South American river in Guyana by the same name. A versatile pepper, they are used for pickling, canning or drying.  A nice, hot variety that reaches 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units.

Growing: Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.

Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. This is especially important for peppers as their roots may be easily damaged when weeding, and this can lead to blossom end rot.

Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2″ of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.

Note that hot peppers tend to be hotter when they have less water and fertilizer. If they receive plenty of water and fertilizer they may be more mild than expected.

Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Try planting pepper plants near tomatoes, parsley, basil, and carrots in your home vegetable garden. Don’t plant them near fennel or kohlrabi. Peppers are very colorful when in full fruit and combine well with green herbs, okra, beans and cucumber fences in the garden bed.

Useful Links:

http://www.burpee.com/vegetables/peppers/pepper-hot-long-red-slim-cayenne-prod000813.html

http://www.vitaminstuff.com/herbs-cayenne.html

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-cayenne.html

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Chamomile:

Scientific Name: Matricaria chamomilla

Common Names: German chamomile, camomile, false chamomile, Hungarian chamomile

Annual

Taste: The German chamomile is a species of chamomile that is very aromatic; it also has a slightly bitter taste which is reminiscent of the taste of apples.

Culinary Uses: A delicious and delectable herbal tea can be prepared from fresh or dried flowers.

Medicinal Uses: Chamomile has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomachs. In the U.S., chamomile is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea.

Description: I am growing Bodegold, which is an improved German Chamomile strain with high essential oil content (.9%), and high levels of the medicinal compounds bisabolol, and chamazulene. Summer blooming annual with white blossoms and  yellow centers. They grow to about 2 feet tall.

Growing: Grows well in poor, clay soil and tolerates hot, dry weather. Thrive in open, sunny locations, but will grow in light shade. Space 4 inches apart. Although an annual, German chamomile self-sows readily, so you’ll likely have a fresh crop the following year. Harvest flowers for drying and for fresh use when they are fully open.

Useful Links:

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html

http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_chamomile_ger.htm

http://www.gardenguides.com/526-chamomile-culinary-herbs-short-season-gardeners.html

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Cilantro:

Scientific Name: Coriandrum sativum

Common Names: Cilantro (when referring to its leaves), Coriander (when referring to its seeds), Chinese parsley

Grown as an annual here

Taste: Leaves are pungent with citrus undertones. Coriander seeds feature tiny, yellowish brown, round to oval with vertical ridges and have a flavor that is aromatic, sweet and citrus, but also slightly peppery.

Culinary Uses: Cilantro leaves has been used in preparation of many popular dishes in Asian and east European cuisine since ancient times. When added in combination with other household herbs and spices, it enhances flavor and taste of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes. The herb has also been used in the preparation of soups, and sauces. Popular Mediterranean cilantro pesto uses fresh cilantro, red pepper, garlic cloves, olive oil, pumpkin seeds with few drops of lemon juice, is a great addition on pasta, in sandwiches or as a marinade to fish, poultry…etc dishes. Freshly chopped and sautéed cilantro leaves are a great addition in green salad. The ripe seeds are an important ingredient in curry. They are also used as a pickling spice or sugar-coated and eaten as candy. To release more of the flavor from the coriander, roast the seeds in a dry, hot pan for a few minutes until you can smell the scent strongly.  These seeds are ground in a mortar and pestle or herb grinder before use. Coriander seed powder is one of the main ingredients used in the preparation of garam masala powder.

Medicinal Uses: It aids in better digestion, as well as an improved absorption of nutrients derived from the food. A strong decoction of cilantro seeds mixed with cumin seeds and ginger root acts as a very potent diuretic employed for detoxifying purposes, while a light tea of cilantro seeds and leaves may be drunk in controlled measures daily to help treat diabetes and promote calmness. – See more at: http://www.herbs-info.com/cilantro.html#sthash.4epkqtKu.dpuf

Description: Calypso is destined to become the new workhorse of your herb garden. Stocky, very well-branched plants deliver almost unbelievable yields of fragrant, delectable leaves, simply packed with authentic Cilantro flavor. Let them set seed and you have Coriander too! Just 12 to 18 inches high and wide, this powerhouse concentrates all its energy on producing masses of flavorful leaves. The more you cut, the quicker new ones arise, for a longer-than-ever season of delicious eating!

The juvenile, broad, toothed, soft green, aromatic leaves can be harvested at any time for fresh use in salsa, salads, soups, and as a seasoning in many ethnic dishes. Avoid using the adult, thinly divided, lacy leaves. Umbels of tiny, white or pale pink flowers appear in the summer. They are followed in late summer by the sweetly aromatic seeds.

Growing: It is is easy to grow indoors and out! Plant 8-10 inches apart in full sunshine and any moist, well-drained garden soil. Hold off on fertilizers that contain nitrogen, which could reduce the flavor of the leaves and seeds. It is a good idea to have two separate plantings so you can harvest the tender leaves and stems for cilantro and let one patch go to seed for coriander. Coriander likes well drained, rich soil and will bolt and turn bitter if grown at temperatures over 75 degrees, so plant it after frost has passed but enjoy it until the full heat of summer hits.

Useful Links:

http://parkseed.com/calypso-cilantro-seeds/p/00596-PK-P1/

Better Homes and Gardens: Cilantro

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/cilantro.html

Health Benefits of Cilantro

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/Cilantro.htm

Tips on Growing Cilantro

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Chives:

Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum

Common Names: Onion chives

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Mild onion flavor

Culinary Uses: Chives can easily be substituted for onion in many recipes; however, it is important to understand that the longer they are cooked the less potent their flavor will be. To enjoy the full flavor of chives use them uncooked as a garnish.

Medicinal Uses: Used primarily in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its diuretic properties and its capacity to help improve the overall circulatory capacity of the body is touted as among its most beneficial medicinal properties.

Description: I am growing Staro variety of onion chives. Their thick, deep green leaves is high yielding and easy to harvest. Mild onion flavor is perfect for soups and vegetables. Clover-like purple flowers appear in spring. Edible blooms make a flavorful addition to salads. Plants are equally handsome when grown in containers. Growth is clumping to 2 feet tall.

Growing: Plant in full or part sun, 6-8 inches apart. Best appearance and production with rich soil and regular water. Harvest by cutting leaves back to 2 inches tall. Fresh cut leaves last about 7 days in the refrigerator. In zip-lock bags placed in the freezer, quality is preserved for about 1 year. Flavor of leaves declines when plants bloom, shear leaves back as flower buds develop. Chives flowers are showy and edible, attract bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects. Plants are deer and rabbit resistant.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/a/Chives.htm

http://www.herbs-info.com/chives.html

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/chives/

About Chives from Herb Info

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Dill:

Scientific Name: Anethum graveolens

Common Names: Fernleaf, dillweed, Anet

Annual

Taste: Pleasant anise-like flavor and aroma

Culinary Uses: In cooking, dill is delicious with fish, especially salmon, lamb, pork, poultry, cheese, cream, eggs, cabbage, onions, cauliflower, parsnips, squash, eggplant, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, avocados, and apples. It is particularly popular in salads, soups, sauces, spreads, and fish recipes of Russia and Scandinavia. When preparing fresh dillweed, snip with scissors rather than ripping it with a knife to avoid losing essential oils.

Harvest by clipping leaves close to the stem in early morning or in the evening as soon as the plant is well-established. Once harvested, it has a rather short life-span. It can be dried but it does lose some of its flavor. Spread it on a non-metallic screen in a warm, dark, dry place with good air circulation. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry, dark spot. You can also freeze fresh picked dillweed. Freeze it on the stems, as it is easier to handle. Just snip off what is needed and return the rest to the freezer.

The seed heads are used for pickling purposes.

Medicinal Uses: Leaves and seeds are still used to dispel wind, to stimulate the flow of mother’s milk, and to treat congestion in the breast caused by nursing. It is still used to increase appetite, settle the stomach, and to relieve colic in babies.

Description: Fernleaf or dwarf dill grows to 18″ high. It has dark green leaves. It is slow to bolt and is grown especially for its leaves rather than its seed. It is a unique dwarf that was developed for container culture. If you are growing dill for its seed, choose the variety called Bouquet. (FYI, My family grows Bouquet dill and sells freshly cut stalks during pickle season.) Dill is an annual that looks a lot like fennel, its relative. It has a single, spindly taproot like carrot. One long, hollow stalk comes from the root. Numerous, small, yellow flowers appear on an umbrella-like head. The leaves are like soft needles and are called dillweed.

Growing: Dill likes a well-drained, moderately rich, moist soil with a pH of 6.0 in full sun. Do not crowd plants because crowding and poor, dry soil will cause it to bolt. Do not plant it next to fennel because they will cross-pollinate and their individual flavors will be lost. It is a good idea to stagger your plantings of dill for a continuous supply. In companion planting, dill enhances the growth of cabbage, onions, and lettuce. It has an adverse effect on carrots.

Useful Links:

http://www.superbherbs.net/dwarfdill.htm

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/dill-weed.html

http://gardenersnet.com/herbs/dill.htm

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Echinacea:

Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea

Common Names: Purple coneflower, Black Sampson, Niggerhead, Rudbeckia, Sampson Root, Purple Coneflower, Hedgehog, Red Sunflower

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: Traditionally, herbalists consider echinacea a blood purifier and aid to fighting infections.

It has also useful properties as a strong aphrodisiac. As an injection, the extract has been used for hemorrhoids and a tincture of the fresh root has been found beneficial in diphtheria and putrid fevers.

Native Americans of the prairie used echinacea for more medicinal purposes than they did any other plant, for everything from colds to cancer.

Echinacea is a tissue detoxifier that also stimulates digestion and acts to promote perspiration to sweat out toxins. The three echinacea roots, purpurea, pallida, and angustifolia are considered to be clinically identical and interchangeable.

Echinacea entered formal medicine in 1895, becoming the best-selling American medicinal plant prescribed by physicians into the 1920s. Later replaced by antibiotics in the United States, it has enjoyed continuous popularity in Europe. In 1993 German physicians prescribed echinacea more than 2.5 million times.

Echinacea has been used externally as either a wash of the decoction or a diluted tincture for pus formation, sores, infections, infected wounds, gangrene, vaginal discharge (douche), hemorrhoids, impetigo, herpes, acne, psoriasis, pyorrhea (mouth wash), gingivitis (mouth wash), sore throat (as a gargle), and tonisilitis (gargle). The powder has been used as a dust for infected skin conditions such as boils, weeping/infected eczema, and psoriasis.

Today most consumers use echinacea to prevent and treat colds and to help heal infections. Echinacea enhances the particle ingestion capacity of white blood cells and other specialized immune system cells, thus increasing their ability to attack foreign invaders, such as cold or flu viruses. Besides stimulating a healthy immune system to deal more effectively with invading viruses, it helps accelerate healing if infection already exists.

Description: I am growing Prairie Splendor. It is is a compact coneflower that features bright rose-magenta rays surrounding a dark orange center cone. It typically grows in a clump to 24″ tall and as wide. Flowers bloom from late spring (two weeks earlier than most echinaceas) to late summer, sometimes with additional sporadic bloom until frost. Each flower (to 4-5″ diameter) features downward-arching rose-magenta rays. Dark green leaves are lanceolate to narrow-ovate. Good fresh cut or dried flower. The dead flower stems will remain erect well into the winter, and if flower heads are not removed, the blackened cones may be visited by goldfinches or other birds that feed on the seeds. Echinacea comes from the Greek word echinos meaning hedgehog in reference to the spiny center cone found on most flowers in the genus. European Fleuroselect 2007 Gold Medal winner.

Growing: Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun and plant at about a foot apart. This is an adaptable plant that is tolerant of drought, heat, humidity and poor soil. Divide clumps when they become overcrowded (about every 4 years). Plants usually rebloom without deadheading, however prompt removal of spent flowers encourages continued bloom and improves general appearance.

Useful Links:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=e418

http://www.bellybytes.com/herbs/echinacea.html#.VtCqwOYhFv4

More Than a Pretty Flower

WebMD

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Lavender:

Scientific Name: Lavendula angustifolia

Common Names: English lavender

Perennial to zone 5

Taste:

Culinary Uses: As a spice, lavender is best known as an important aspect of French cuisine and is an integral ingredient in herbs de Provence seasoning blends. Lavender may be used on its own to give a delightful, floral flavor to desserts, meats, and breads. The flowers can also be layered within sugar to infuse it with its distinctive aroma for use in cookies and candies.

Medicinal Uses: According to Mountain Rose Herbs: “It has been thought for centuries to enflame passions as an aphrodisiac, and is still one of the most recognized scents in the world. The German Commission E commended lavender for treating insomnia, nervous stomach, and anxiety. The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia lists it as a treatment for flatulence, colic, and depressive headaches, and many modern herbal practitioners use the herb to treat migraines in menopause. In Spain, it is added to teas to treat diabetes and insulin resistance.” Lavender is known for it’s scent but also for its antibacterial, antimicrobial, expectorant, stress-relieving, antiseptic and analgesic properties. Lavender has a long history of use in natural remedies and as a natural scent and perfume. It’s calming scent makes it soothing to the respiratory system and it is often suggested to be diffused to calm coughs and colds. It’s natural antibacterial properties may also make it useful in protecting against airborne viruses and bacteria when diffused.

Description: Its name is derived from the Latin word Lavo, to wash, a distillation of the flowers being anciently used in perfuming water for washing the body. The plant forms a compact clump 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, has numerous erect stems, bearing small, linear, gray leaves, above which the slender, square, flower stems arise. The small violet-blue flowers are arranged in a short, terminal spike, and are followed by little brown, oblong, shiny seeds, with white dots at the ends, attached to the plant.

Growing: Although lavender can tolerate a variety of growing conditions, this plant thrives best under warm, sunny conditions in well-drained soil. In addition, an alkaline soil rich in organic matter can encourage higher plant oil production, enhancing the fragrance in lavender plants. As lavender is native to arid regions, the plant will not tolerate moist or overly wet conditions; therefore, it’s important to consider location when growing lavender plants. They should be located in areas with adequate drainage and spaced far enough apart to ensure good air circulation. This will help reduce the chance of developing root rot. Once established, lavender plants require little care or maintenance. While they should be watered regularly early on, established plants need little water, as they are extremely drought tolerant. Regular pruning not only keeps lavender plants neat looking in appearance, but also helps to encourage new growth. Low-growing varieties can be cut back to the new growth while larger types can be pruned to about a third of their overall height. Generally, lavender plants take up to a year or more before they are ready for harvesting. However, once they are ready, it’s best to harvest the plants early in the day, picking flower spikes that haven’t fully opened yet. Bundle the plants up and hang upside down in a dry, dark area for about one to two weeks.

Useful Links:

Lavender Herb Profile

http://www.plantguide.org/lavender-herb.html

Lavender in the Garden

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/lavender-flowers/profile

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Mint, Spearmint:

Scientific Name: Mentha spicata

Common Names: Fish Mint, Garden Mint, Menthol, Sage of Bethlehem

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: A more mild minty flavor than peppermint

Culinary Uses: Grown for their leaves which are used to flavor vinegar and jelly (often served with roast lamb and other meats), and to enhance thirst-quenching cooling beverages.

Medicinal Uses: Spearmint is used for digestive disorders including gas, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, upper gastrointestinal tract spasms, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bile duct and gallbladder swelling (inflammation), and gallstones. It is also used for sore throat, colds, headaches, toothaches, cramps, cancer and inflammation of respiratory tract. Some people use it as a stimulant, germ-killer, local pain-killer, and anti-spasm medication. Spearmint is applied directly to the skin for swelling inside the mouth, arthritis, local muscle and nerve pain, and skin conditions including pruritus and urticaria.

Description: Spearmint resembles peppermint, though spearmint plants have bright green leaves that are pointed, and lavender flower spikes that grow up to 4 inches long. When planted in ideal conditions, spearmint will reach a mature height and width of 12 to 24 inches.

Growing: Learning how to grow spearmint isn’t much different than growing other mint plants. Spearmint is a hardy perennial up to USDA plant hardiness Zone 5 that grows best in partial shade with well-draining, rich, moist soil and a pH of 6.5 to 7. Mint is easiest to grow from plants, but you can sow seed once the ground has warmed in the spring. Keep seeds moist until they germinate and thin plants to 1 foot apart. Spearmint, once planted takes off quickly and can take over quickly as well. Many people question how to plant spearmint due to its invasive nature. Some cautious gardeners grow spearmint in hanging baskets or containers to avoid having to pull out runners constantly. Another way to plant spearmint if you want it in the garden is to plant it in a 5-gallon pot with the bottom cut out. This will help keep the runners of growing spearmint plants from invading other spots of your garden. As with most types of mint, the care of spearmint is easy. Mint in the garden should be mulched annually to keep the roots cool and moist. Potted mint does best when fertilized monthly during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer. Divide plants every two years to keep them healthy. Prune potted plants regularly to keep neat and tidy. If you live in an area with very cold winters, it is best to bring potted spearmint indoors and place in a sunny window.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardening.com/growingmint.htm

Spearment Care

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Mint, Peppermint:

Scientific Name: Mentha piperita

Common Names: Balm mint, Brandy mint, Lamb mint

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Potent minty flavor

Culinary Uses: Peppermint is used commercially to flavor a wide variety of products, from mouthwash to candies, ice creams to jellies. It’s traditionally used to make mint sauce that is served with roast lamb, and is quite good with new peas and potatoes, or as a garnish for fruit salad. By itself or combined with other herbs to make a tea, it can’t be beat, and adding peppermint oil to baths makes for a relaxing menthol soak.

Medicinal Uses: Known to aid digestion, relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, cold and flu remedy as well as a skin remedy.

Description: Peppermint is a cross between a watermint and spearmint. It is the most widely used mint, and is pretty easy to identify by its purple leaves. The plant itself can grow from 1-3 feet tall or more, and consists of purplish, square stems and oblong purplish leaves with pointed tips, distinct veins, and toothed edges. It produces small pink, white, or purple flowers at the end of each stem from July to September.

Growing: Peppermint can actually be too easy to grow, and you should take care when introducing it into your garden to keep a fair amount of control over it. Peppermint spreads by sending out runners, and it can quickly take over wherever you place it and begin pushing into neighboring areas. One of the best ways to grow it is to select an isolated spot and just let it go (and go and go). You can also sink a barrel into the ground and plant the peppermint inside it, or set up some other sort of physical barrier to try and contain the roots. You’ll find everything you ever wanted to know about mint in this little booklet. Peppermint thrives best in full or partial sun, in a rich, drained loam that will retain water in summer. Not enough sun and the plant gets leggy. Not enough water or nutrients, and it can become susceptible to rust or mildew. Pests shouldn’t be a problem.

Useful Links:

http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-health-benefits-of-the-peppermint-herb.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/481-growing-using-peppermint.html

Peppermint Benefits and Uses

http://herbgardening.com/growingmint.htm

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Marjoram:

Scientific Name: Origanum majorana

Common Names: Sweet marjoram

Grown as an annual here

Taste: A sweeter less potent version of Greek oregano with a hint of balsam

Culinary Uses: Sweet marjoram is mainly a culinary and no cook should be without it. It is often found in bouquet garni, a classic herb combination that includes parsley, thyme, bay, peppercorns, allspice, and tarragon tucked between two stalks of celery tied together, and then tied to the pot handle for easy removal. These are used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces. Marjoram has a mild oregano flavor with a hint of balsam. It is wonderfully aromatic. It is good with veal, beef, lamb, roast poultry, fish, pates, green veggies, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, eggs, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, squash, and tomatoes. It compliments bay, garlic, onion, thyme, and basil. It can be used as a substitute for oregano in tomato sauces for pizza, lasagna, and eggplant Parmesan. Add it to marinade for artichoke hearts, asparagus, and mushrooms. Use it in herb vinegars, oils, and butters.

Medicinal Uses: As a medicinal tea, sweet marjoram will soothe an upset stomach. It has anti-microbial properties too, and can be used as a skin wash.

Description: The plants grow 1-2 feet tall and have tiny gray-green leaves with a satin texture and bloom clusters that consist of handsome, green petal-like bracts with small white flowers.

Growing: Grow in a sunny and warm spot. Transplant leaving 10 inches between plants. Cut back after flowering to prevent them from getting straggly. Marjoram is particularly good for repelling cabbage moths, and it can be planted between rows of Brassicas for this purpose. Also good around asparagus and basil.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardens.about.com/od/culinary/p/sweetmarjoram.htm

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/sweet-marjoram.html

http://www.superbherbs.net/Sweetmarjoram.htm

http://www.gardenguides.com/432-sweet-marjoram.html

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Nasturtium:

Scientific Name: Tropaeolum majus

Common Names: Nasturtium, Indian Cress

Tender perennial, can be overwintered indoors.

Taste: Light peppery taste

Culinary Uses: Nasturtium leaves can be added to salads and sandwich spreads. Chop some up and add it to egg or potato salad. Flowers and seeds can be added to salads for color and zest.

Medicinal Uses: Nasturtium is mostly taken fresh by adding leaves, flowers and seed pods into salads and other edibles. The plant is antimicrobial, so it is good to eat this herb for infections. It is useful for respiratory infections like bronchitis, flu and colds, and it is also helpful for reproductive infections. It can help clear mucous from the throat and lungs. By taking herbal tincture when you first feel a cold coming on, you can help speed that cold on its way. The seed pods may be antifungal. Tinctures can be made in alcohol or vinegar to preserve the nutrients of the plant for later use. Vinegar can be put on cooked greens for a mustardy touch.

Description: I am growing five different Nasturtiums this year. Alaska Raspberry with brilliant pink-red flowers and variegated foliage. Blooms are held above the leaves for optimal viewing. Plants form compact 12-inch mounds. Canary with canary-yellow blooms speckled red, held above the leaves. Plants form 12 inch mounds. Empress of India with brilliant scarlet flowers and deep blue-green leaves form billowing 2-foot mounds. Moonlight vine that trails to 6 feet and covers itself with beautiful butter-yellow single flowers all season long. Great as a ground cover, trained on a trellis or in hanging baskets. Whirlybird mix with cherry-red, orange, cream, tangerine, and gold blossoms on compact plants.

Growing: Nasturtium prefers a full sun location but will tolerate some light shade however flowering may be reduced.  Average well-drained garden soil produces the best growth. For the tastiest leaves, keep plants well watered as this helps to moderate the spiciness of the leaves and flowers.  Heat stressed plants often produce leaves and flowers that may be more pungent than most people prefer.  If plants show signs of decline or become leggy during the summer, cut them back lightly and they will produce new growth for the remainder of the season.

Useful Links:

http://www.digherbs.com/nasturtium.html

http://www.swallowtailgardenseeds.com/annuals/nasturtium.html#gsc.tab=0

http://extension.illinois.edu/herbs/nasturtium.cfm

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Oregano, Greek:

Scientific Name: Origanum vulgare

Common Names: Oregano

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can be more flavorful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm, and slightly bitter peppery taste, which can vary in intensity. Good-quality oregano may be strong enough almost to numb the tongue

Culinary Uses: Its main use today is in cooking. After all, what is a pizza or tomato sauce without the hot, peppery taste of oregano? It enhances cheese and egg dishes such as omelets, frittata, quiches, and flans. It can be added to yeast breads, marinated veggies, roasted peppers, and soups. Chopped and mixed with garlic, salt, and olive oil makes a great marinade for pork, beef, or roasted potatoes. Add a little Rosemary to the oregano marinade and use it on poultry. Greek Oregano is great for tacos, fajitas and salsas too!

Medicinal Uses: Medicinally, oregano tea is still used for indigestion, coughs, and to bring on menstruation. The oil is still used for toothache.

Description: This aromatic, herbaceous perennial is compact and grows to about 20″ tall. Its leaves are hairy, and its flowers small and white.

Growing: Plant a foot apart in full sun or in containers. Good drainage is required for best growth and overwintering. To help insure winter survival a winter mulch of evergreen boughs or straw applied in November or December after the soil has frozen is helpful. This is then removed as growth resumes in the spring. Harvesting can begin just before the plants are ready to flower. Remove the stem tips leaving 4-6 pairs of leaves on the plant in order for it to produce side shoots for additional harvesting. This will also help to make the plant become bushier and more compact. Allowing the plant to flower will reduce or stop growth completely. It also reduces the flavor of the leaves. Hang the cut stems in a cool, dry, dark well-ventilated location. After leaves are dry, they can be removed from the stems and stored in sealed containers.

Useful Links:
http://www.superbherbs.net/Greekoregano.htm

http://extension.illinois.edu/herbs/oregano.cfm

http://www.blogher.com/cooking-fresh-herbs-greek-oregano

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Parsley, Curled:

Scientific Name: Petroselinum crispum

Common Names: Curly Parsley, Moss Curled Parsley, Garden Parsley

Biennual (flowers and dies the second year)

Taste: Light, fresh taste and mildly bitter that balances flavors of dishes.

Culinary Uses: This variety is most often used as a garnish but has a much wider culinary use than that! It is used in gazpacho, tossed salads, pasta salads, warm soups, use in combination with other herbs like Basil, Oregano, and Thyme.

Medicinal Uses: Aids in digestion, relief of bloating and gas, helps lower blood pressure, regulates the menstrual cycle, and so on. See more here: http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

Description: I am growing Antaris which has very tightly curled leaves, forming dense clumps with a height of 8-14 inches. Great for borders, interplanting in the garden beds, and indoor or outdoor containers.

Growing: Parsley grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight per day or high output plant growing lights. It also grows well in loamy garden soil rich in nitrogen, and does well in full sun with afternoon shade or in part shade. Parsley can overwinter if lightly mulched during extremely cold weather.

Useful Links:

http://herbgardening.com/growingparsley.htm

http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-flat-leaf-curly-leaf-parsley-175565

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-parsley/

Parsley, Curly or Flat?

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Parsley, Flat Leaf:

Scientific Name: Petroselinum neapolitanum

Common Names: Flat-leafed parsley, Italian parsley

Biennual (flowers and dies the second year)

Taste: Strong, fresh taste and mildly bitter that balances flavors of dishes.

Culinary Uses: This Italian heirloom parsley is very spicy, flavorful; its plain flat leaves are ideal for seasoning. Bushy, thick stalks can also be eaten like celery. Because of its light scent and fresh taste, parsley can be used in anything from soups to sauces to vegetables. In Middle Eastern cuisine, parsley is the one of the main ingredients in dishes such as tabbouleh, a salad using bulgur, mint, parsley and vegetables, and is the main herb used in stuffing for grape leaves. As a garnish, parsley can be chopped and sprinkled in soups, hummus, or mixed with ground meat, such as lamb. More times than not you will find parsley as the most common herb used in Middle Eastern recipes.

Medicinal Uses: Aids in digestion, relief of bloating and gas, helps lower blood pressure, regulates the menstrual cycle, and so on. See more here: http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

Description: I am growing Gigante d’Italia flat-leafed parsley. This plant can grow quite tall (2-3 ft) and is more gangling in habit. The flat serrated leaves often seem to have a much stronger and sweeter flavor than the other varieties, making it more desirable for cooking. Flowers in long-stalk like green umbels June – July (if it flowers the leaves become in-edible and the plant will die so simply remove them to prolong the plants life).

Growing: Parsley grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight per day or high output plant growing lights. It also grows well in loamy garden soil rich in nitrogen, and does well in full sun with afternoon shade or in part shade. Parsley can overwinter if lightly mulched during extremely cold weather.

Useful Links:

http://www.home-remedies-guide.com/herbs/parsley.htm

http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternfood101/a/parsley.htm

Herb Profile: Parsley

http://blog.cookingchanneltv.com/2013/06/12/25-ways-to-use-parsley/

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Rosemary:

Scientific Name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Common Names: Rosemary, Rose of the Sea, Dew of the Sea

Tender perennial and houseplant during the winter

Taste: It is renowned for its fragrant, somewhat earthy scent and flavor

Culinary Uses: The herb is used to flavor in breads, salads, soups, baked vegetables, and meat dishes. Rosemary goes well with tomatoes, aubergine, potato, zucchinis (courgettes). Finely chopped fresh leaves are used in the preparation of delicious sautéed rosemary potatoes. Rosemary tea is a popular flavor drink in Mediterranean region. Tip: In order to keep the fragrance and flavor intact, the herb is generally added to cooking recipes at the last moments, since prolonged cooking would result in the evaporation of its essential oils.

Medicinal Uses: Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.

Description: Rosemary flourishes in well-drained, alkaline soil. It prefers sunny condition but at the same time needs shelter from gusty winds. The plant reaches about 1.5-3 meters in height. Its bushy stems and downy young shoots are covered with about 1 inch long, narrow, needle-like aromatic leaves; dark green above and grayish underneath. The plant bears short racemes of small sea-blue flowers appearing in early summer.

Growing: To grow rosemary year round here they will have to spend the winter indoors. In this case, it’s easier to grow your rosemary in a container all year. Since rosemary likes it on the dry side, terra cotta pots are an especially good choice. Just be sure it doesn’t bake and completely dry out while outdoors during the summer. Bring the potted rosemary inside once the temperature inches into the 30s. It can be a little trickier to keep rosemary happy inside. Your rosemary plant will require 6-8 hours of full sun, so artificial lights may be necessary. Heat is not as crucial as sunlight.

Useful Links:

http://gardening.about.com/od/vegetablepatch/a/Rosemary.htm

Rosemary Herb Profile

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266370.php

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/rosemary-herb.html

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Skullcap:

Scientific Name: Scutellaria laterifolia

Common Names: Skullcap, Blue Skullcap

Perennial to zone 4

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilisers. The infusion is given for nervous headaches, neuralgia and in headache arising from incessant coughing, pain, and inducing sleep when necessary, without any unpleasant symptoms following. Skullcap is currently being used as an alternative medicine to treat ADD and a number of nerve disorders.

Description: I am growing Baikal Skullcap. It is a perennial mint growing 1-2 ft tall with ridged leaves and tiny purple flowers that blooms from July-September. The two-lobed flowers resemble the military helmets worn by early European settlers, hence the herb’s name.

Growing: Skullcap prefers partial shade to full sun. Water moderately, but make sure soil is well-drained. Prefers fertile soil. Plant a foot apart.

Useful Links:

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/skullcap/profile

https://altnature.com/gallery/skullcap.htm

Benefits of Skullcap

http://www.robsplants.com/plants/scutellaria.php

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Sorrel:

Scientific Name: Rumex acetosa

Common Names: Garden sorrel, Common Sorrel, Spinach dock, narrow-leafed dock

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: Sorrel has a remarkably bright and even tart flavor. Many people liken its taste to lemons, which makes sense since there is a real note of sourness in there. It can be tricky to work with, since that lemony flavor is mixed with a deep “greens” and grassy flavor. It is bright and deep, sharp and full of mineral all at once.

Culinary Uses: Once a common ingredient in soups, stews, salads and sauces, sorrel vanished from use for hundreds of years. Now this delightful, leafy green is finding its way back into gardens and kitchens, where its tantalizing flavor and good nutrition can be enjoyed each spring. Use it as a leafy herb – like parsley or basil or mint – chopping it up to use in marinades and dressings or stirring it into soups (like this Sorrel Leek Soup) or casseroles for a bit of fresh flavor. Or, use it as a green, ripping the tender leaves into salads and stir-fries. The tart and bright flavor of sorrel makes it particularly good at adding some life to potatoes, eggs, and whole grains. It is also delicious with smoked or oily fish like salmon or mackerel. Sorrel is classically paired with cream, sour cream, or yogurt – adding a vibrant green color and tartness to these plain items as their fatty creaminess tames the sharp flavor of the sorrel. Sorrel is also a great addition to other cooked greens. Add a handful or two when you cook spinach, chard, or kale for a lovely sour kick. Tip: The herb tastes best in early spring, and becomes increasingly bitter as the season progresses.

Medicinal Uses: Rich in vitamin C, sorrel was valued for centuries for its ability to prevent scurvy, a serious, even life-threatening problem when fresh fruits and vegetables were not available. The English physician Culpeper (1826) recommended sorrel “to cool any inflammation and heat of blood,” “to refresh overspent spirits,” “to quench thirst, and to procure an appetite.”

Description: Leaf sorrel is cultivated as a garden herb and grows 2 feet high with upright stems. The leaves are smooth to crinkled and are from 3 to 6 inches long. When sorrel herb bolts, it produces an attractive whorled purple flower.

Growing: Choose a sunny location with good drainage. Plant 6 inches apart. Also does well in containers. Sorrel likes a slightly acidic soil pH; somewhere in the range of 5.5 to 6.8. Since it is grown for its leaves, a soil rich in organic matter will give you lots of green growth. Sorrel is not demanding requiring little extra care. Keep beds weed free.

Useful Links:

http://localfoods.about.com/od/herbs/ss/Sorrel.htm

http://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/herb-to-know-sorrel-rumex-scutatus-r-acetosa.aspx

How to Grow Sorrel

http://www.livingherbs.com/products/sorrel/

Harvest to Table: Sorrel

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Stevia:

Scientific Name: Stevia rebaudiana

Common Names: Stevia, candyleaf, Paraguayan sweet herb, sweetleaf, honey leaf plant, sweet chrysanthemum

Tender perennial, usually grown as an annual although can be overwintered indoors.

Taste: Used as a natural sweetner

Culinary Uses: As a tea and in food and beverages as a sweetener.

Medicinal Uses: Internally, The herb is a good sweetener for diabetics as it actually can lower their blood sugar. It delays the absorption of sugar from the intestines, thus regulating the sugar levels that get into the blood stream. It may actually improve insulin sensitivity and encourage insulin production by the body. Studies show that it might also reduce blood pressure and improve the heart’s muscle tone. It helps with weight loss. Externally, Stevia is antibacterial and can be used on the skin. Some studies also show that it may help prevent or delay tooth decay. It may also prevent plaque from adhering to the teeth and reduce the bacteria that create cavities and gum disease. It can be added to mouthwash and toothpaste to control the bacteria in the mouth.

Description: Stevia plant grows 2-4 feet in height with slender, branched stems. Almost all the parts of the plant tastes sweet; however, the sweet glycosides are typically concentrated in its dark-green serrated leaves.

Growing: Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil. Plants grown in warm climates will grow to 24 inches tall and wide. Where summers are cool, expect stevia plants to grow up to 16 inches. Grow three to five plants for a year’s supply of dried stevia leaves.

Choose a well-drained site, and set out the plants 2 feet apart after your last frost. Be sure to choose an accessible spot, because you will need to gather stems often. Where summers are extremely hot, stevia benefits from slight afternoon shade. Elsewhere, grow stevia in full sun.

Useful Links:

http://www.stevia.com/stevia_article.aspx?/title=Growing_Your_Own_Stevia&id=8077

http://www.mountainmausremedies.com/stevia-herb/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/herbs/stevia-plant-zm0z13fmzkin.aspx

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Sage:

Scientific Name: Salvia officinalis

Common Names: Common sage, culinary sage, garden sage

Perennial to zone 5

Taste: Sage is described as having a warm, almost minty taste; that is somewhat bitter.

Culinary Uses: Sage enhances pork, lamb, meats, and sausages. Chopped leaves flavor salads, pickles, and cheese. Crumble leaves for full fragrance. Use ground Sage sparingly as foods absorb its flavor more quickly.Sage is a wonderful flavor enhancement for seafood, vegetables, stuffing, and savory breads. Rub sage, cracked pepper, and garlic into pork tenderloin or chops before cooking.

Medicinal Uses:

Sage

Description: Sage is a shrubby, perennial plant that grows to about 2-3 feet tall.  Foliage is gray-green with a pebbly texture.  As it ages, it has a tendency to sprawl.  Spikes of purple flowers appear in mid-summer.

Growing: For healthy plants, give your sage plants full sun. In hot zones, USDA 8 or higher, they can handle some afternoon shade, but you don’t want the leaves to remain damp for long periods of time. You will probably be snipping and harvesting and plants will sprawl rather than grow tall. Sage plants bloom in mid-summer. They may bloom their first year, depending on size and site, but you are really growing the plants for the leaves. Allow the plants to grow unharvested for the first year, to become established. After that you can harvest leaves at anytime, although they are consider at their best before or just after blooming. Pruning after flowering will keep plants attractive and prevent them from getting too woody and leggy. Sage is very drought tolerant and does not like sitting in wet soil. The leaves will mildew if they are allowed to sit damp, so water infrequently. The essential oils of herbs are strongest when they are grown in a lean soil. Go easy on the fertilizer. It’s better to simply side dress with organic matter, in the spring. Sage is very happy growing in containers. If you want to try growing sage indoors, you will need to provide strong, direct light.

Useful Links:

http://gardening.about.com/od/herbs/p/Sage.htm

http://www.herbs-info.com/sage.html

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-sage.html

http://www.emmitsburg.net/gardens/articles/adams/2001/sage.htm

https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/salofficinalisgarden.htm

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Savory, Summer:

Scientific Name: Satureja hortensis

Common Names: summer savory, savory, bean herb

Annual, but can be brought inside to extend season

Taste: Sweet with a light minty/peppery flavor.

Culinary Uses: Summer savory foliage is fine textured, pairing nicely with the broader leaves of bush beans, beets, basil, or Swiss chard. Dried savory shines when combined with rosemary, thyme, lavender, and bay leaf, the basic foundation for Herbes de Provence, to which other herbs, such as marjoram, basil, and fennel are added. Gather leaves as needed throughout the growing season to sprinkle on salads or garnish dishes. Just before plants bloom, cut entire stems (with flower buds). Air dry stems by spreading on screens or by bundling a few stems and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. When leaves dry completely, strip them from stems and store in airtight containers. Chop dried leaves before using.
Another option to preserve summer savory’s fresh flavor is to stuff the leaves into a jar with vinegar. Use this seasoned vinegar as a marinade base for meats, such as ribs, chicken, and fish. Chopped fresh savory perks up steamed or roasted vegetables, and it also blends nicely with sour cream to create a fresh dip.

Medicinal Uses: It has been praised as a remedy for sore throats, dim vision, sciatica, palsy, intestinal disorders of various kinds, and the stings of wasps and bees.

Description: I am growing Compact Summer Savory. It is a strain of the annual herb with a more compact habit, perfect for container growing. It grows 10-18 inches tall with light needle-shaped leaves to about 1 inch long on four-sided, gray-green stems and tiny summer-blooming lavender flowers.

Growing: Summer savory does best in full sun, about a foot apart in well-draining soil. Once established it is somewhat drought tolerant. Remember, though, it will depart as soon as there is frost in the air. But good news, you can extend the season by bringing indoors. A hanging basket is ideal so it can trail over the side by a sunny kitchen window.

Useful Links:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/summer-savory-zmaz84jazloeck.aspx

How to Grow Savory

http://oldfashionedliving.com/summersavory.html

http://gardening.about.com/od/herbsatoz/ss/How-to-Grow-Summer-Savory.htm

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Shiso:

Scientific Name: Perilla frutescens

Common Names: Green shiso, perilla, beefsteak plant, Chinese basil, purple mint

Tender perennial, grown as an annual here

Taste: Leaves have a distinct cinnamon/clove flavor and aroma, with the spiciness of cumin and even a hint of citrus. The flowers are also edible and have minty, basil-like flavor with hints of clove and cumin.

Culinary Uses: This plant is extremely popular in Japanese and Korean cooking where the leaves are used fresh or pickled to flavor rice, fish, soups and vegetables as garnish and as an onigiri wrap. Chopped they are used in stir fries, tempura, tofu, with cold noodles and salads. It is used by many Japanese when preparing Western dishes as a substitute for sweet basil.
Seedlings are added to salads, older leaves are used as a garnish or flavoring in many dishes. The older leaves are also salted and used as a condiment for tofu and as a garnish for tempura; it also makes a nice pesto. They are one of the ingredients in ‘Shichimi’ or ‘seven spice’ mixture. Essential oils extracted from the plant are also used as a food flavoring in candies and sauces.

Medicinal Uses: It is a pungent, aromatic, warming herb. An infusion of the plant is useful in the treatment of asthma, colds, cough and lung afflictions, influenza prevention, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, food poisoning and allergic reactions (especially from seafood), and to restore health and balance.

Description:

Growing: Shiso grows well in medium to rich, sandy soils. Plant 6 to 12 inches apart in full to partial sun. If the weather is exceedingly warm and humid, the plants’ tops should be pinched back to encourage bushier, less rangy plant growth. Up to a foot long spikes of tiny white flowers bloom from July to October.

Useful Links:

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/ingredients-fine-foods/43-things-to-do-with-fresh-shiso/

http://www.floralencounters.com/Seeds/seed_detail.jsp?grow=plants&productid=1027

http://justhungry.com/how-grow-shiso-perilla

Growing Perilla Shiso Mint

http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/perilla-frutescens=shiso.php

https://altnature.com/gallery/perilla.htm

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Spanish Tarragon:

Scientific Name: Tagetes lucida

Common Names: Mexican mint marigold, Cloud plant, sweet mace, Mexican or winter tarragon, root beer plant

Tender perennial, grown as an annual here or a houseplant

Taste: Sweet anise flavor, used in place of French Tarragon.

Culinary Uses: Chop the fresh leaves and use them to season chicken and tossed green salads, or brew them into a sweet, anise-flavored tea. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well if kept in a sealed glass container and protected from extreme heat and bright light.

Foil-baked fish is a fragrant treat when cooked with this herb. Place one pound of fresh fillets on a piece of buttered aluminum foil or parchment. Slash the fillets at 2-inch intervals and insert a thin slice of lemon into each cut. Dot the fish with butter, salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle with a cup of chopped Spanish tarragon leaves. Double-fold the edges of the foil to seal; fold parchment around the fish, letter style, then turn the ends under. Bake the packet no more than 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 350°F. The fish is done when it flakes easily. Avoid overcooking.

Where French tarragon is difficult to grow, Spanish tarragon is a fine culinary substitute. The flavor is almost indistinguishable from that of tarragon, but because this substitute breaks down more quickly when heated, it’s best if added at the end of cooking. In salads, vinegars, oils, or quick-cooking recipes, substitute it for tarragon in equal proportions.

The colorful yellow flowers are edible, too, ideal for brightening up salads and desserts or make a spicy tea.

Medicinal Uses: It was used for all manner of ailments, including the common cold, colic, malaria and intermittent fevers, and a poultice of the leaves was applied to snake bites. They also used the herb for gout, swellings, digestive problems and so on.

Description: This paragon, native to the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala, is a neat, upright bush some 3 feet tall with narrow, sharply toothed dark green leaves. Its scent recalls that of tarragon more than it does the pungent aroma of its familiar bedding-plant cousins, so-called French and African marigolds. In fall, if the growing season is long enough, the tips of the stems bear clusters of 3/8-inch golden yellow flowers.

Growing: Grow Spanish tarragon along border areas in full sun or part shade and in transition areas between full-sun and part-shade gardens. To get the most out of the fragrant leaves, plant it along walkways and around patios and outdoor living areas. Brush your fingers across the leaves to release the sweet scent. It can also tolerate dry, rocky soil, making it well suited for rock gardens and rockeries. Spanish tarragon is semi-drought tolerant, but you will get better growth and fuller plants by watering regularly. Patios, porches and decks tend to get hot in summer and tender plants suffer, but this herb can take the heat. Plant this flowering herb in patio planters or containers on a deck or porch. In frost-prone areas, you can keep container-grown Spanish tarragon growing all year-round for its ornamental and culinary uses by bringing the plants indoors before the first freeze.

Useful Links:

Mexican Mint Marigold Uses

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/an-herb-to-know-4.aspx?PageId=1

http://www.urbanherbal.com/mexican-marigold-herb/

http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2012/07/mexican-mint-marigold-plant-of-aztecs.html

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Thyme:

Scientific Name: Thymus vulgaris

Common Names: Common thyme, English thyme, garden thyme, German thyme, elfin thyme

Perennial to zone 4

Taste: Pungent minty, light-lemon flavor and aroma

Culinary Uses: Thyme, like parsley, goes with everything: veal, lamb, beef, poultry, fish, stuffing, stews, soups, sauces, stock, herb butters, flavored vinegars, beans, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, onions, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, eggs, and rice.

Medicinal Uses: Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Only recently, however, have researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.

Description: It has small gray-green leaves with white undercolor and white to pale purple/pink flowers that bloom in summer. It is a robust grower with a height of 15 inches and a spread of 12 inches. It makes a great ground-cover in the garden.

Growing: It is shallow-rooted and needs a moist, well-draining soil although when established it is drought tolerant. Plant 18 to 24 inches apart in full to part sun. 

Useful Links:

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/thyme-herb.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=77

http://www.superbherbs.net/englishtyme.htm

http://www.thegardenpages.com/thyme.html

How to Grow Thyme

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Valerian:

Scientific Name: Valeriana officinalis

Common Names: Heliotrope, Heal-all, wild valerian, vandalroot, valium, St. George’s herb

Perennial to zone 3

Taste: N/A

Culinary Uses: No known uses.

Medicinal Uses: The medicinal parts are the carefully dried underground parts and the dried roots. The flowers are fragrant and the rhizome smells strongly when dried. The odor is not present in the fresh plant. Hydrolysis of componants in the root form isovaleric acid which is responsible for the offensive smell.  Valerian is widely used in Europe as a mild nerve sedative and sleep aid for insomnia, excitability, and exhaustion. Experimental studies have shown that it depresses the central nervous system and relieves muscle spasms.

Description: Valerian can grow to be 5 ft (1.5m) tall and almost as wide. It produces heads of sweet-smelling white or pink flowers which grow on tall and hollow, straight stems rising above the foliage. The light green leaves, each with eight to ten pairs of jagged-edged, narrow leaflets, stay close to the ground.

Growing: Valerian favors full sun and a humus rich soil, and lots of water. Plant about a foot apart.

Useful Links:

http://www.bellybytes.com/herbs/valerian.html#.VtOrSeYhFv4

http://www.motherearthliving.com/plant-profile/herb-to-know-valerian.aspx?PageId=1

http://www.growing-herbs.com/herbs/valerian.htm

Vegetable Plants

We grow many kinds of summer-loving vegetable plants. We have chosen varieties to sell that have proven to be winners on our farm.

Yellow Summer Squash: Fortune, straight-neck variety

Zucchini: Paycheck

Cucumbers: Intimidator

Pickles: Vlasstar

Tomatoes: BHN 589 (excellent slicing and canning tomato), Monticello (plum tomato that is great for sauce, salsa, tomato paste, and canning), cherry tomato mixture that includes red, yellow, pink, and striped cherry tomatoes, heirloom mixture that includes Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Lemon Boy and more.

Peppers: Turnpike (a large green sweet bell pepper that turns red when mature), Cayenne (a long red hot pepper that is used fresh, but more frequently used when left to dry on the plant)

Eggplant: Megal, an early maturing purple variety

Winter Squash: Butternut, spaghetti, and Celebration acorn

Pumpkins: Howden (Jack-O-Lantern type) and Giant Pumpkin

Gourds: Birdhouse gourds (also called green or bottle gourds)

Cabbage: Savoy King

Rhubarb: Victoria

Broccoli: Emerald Crown

Lettuce: Iceberg and romaine

Green Beans: A variety that does well in hot weather

Watermelon: Crimson Sweet and Sugar Baby

Beets: Our favorite red beet variety

 


SunSugar Nursery LLC

SunSugar Nursery LLC

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